New Spiritualized mk IV (or thereabouts) sees Jason Pierce ditch the grandiose song augmentation of previous album ‘Let It Come Down’ in favour of something a bit more raw, a tad less pretentious and a lot less stratospherically-inclined. Is it any wonder that the album suffers as a result? ‘Amazing Grace’ is two steps back in the career of J Spaceman and overtly reliant on the garage-blues dirges that encumbered his previous works. So for tracks like ‘Cheapster’, ‘This Life Of Mine’ and ‘She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit) ’ read ‘Electricity’ parts II, III and onwards. Always the less interesting and least vital elements of the Spiritualized armoury, on this album those songs are pushed to the fore, the results of studio time being spliced to a comparatively infinitesimal amount at the behest of the head gonzo-rocker.
But, if Spiritualized aren’t going to offer us pompous, space-high hymns to human failings with a scope of vision that surpasses 20:20 twice the way round, who is? Quite. Hence, the best songs on ‘Amazing Grace’ are those like the orchestral wonders of ‘Lord Let It Rain On Me’, the slight but affecting ‘Hold On’ and the final volley of songs ’Rated X’ and ’Lay It Down Slow’. Pierce has always done frail, cracked and on the verge of collapse better than anything else, and much of the time better than anyone else; hence why 1997’s ‘Ladies and Gentleman… We Are Floating In Space’ is a landmark in self-loathing, fucked-up melancholia unsurpassed since.
Otherwise, little has changed; themes are those of religion, redemption, love and loss and nothing new is offered. Not a problem at all, just as long as that which is offered up is done so in a celestial manner to warp our brains and redeem our souls. It appears that the law of the ever-decreasing return has finally taken hold of Spiritualized, leaving us musing that perhaps the drugs did work after all…
6Gareth Dobson's Score