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Spiritualized - Sweet Heart, Sweet Light

  by Cila Warncke

published: 2 / 5 / 2012

Spiritualized - Sweet Heart, Sweet Light
Label: Double Six Records
Format: CD


Self-indulgent and over-intense latest album from psychedelic rockers, Spiritualized

I fell into Spiritualized’s slipstream in the wake of my first romantic disappointment and loved the magnificent bombast of 'Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space 'with every fibre of my teenage being. An elegantly wasted musical masterpiece that perfectly captured the ferocious, solipsistic drama of drugs and bad break-ups, it felt both urgent and authentic. In 'Sweet Heart, Sweet Light', however, the tropes of heartbreak and misery are less elegant and more wasted. If it weren’t delivered with such lugubrious intensity I’d be tempted to write the whole thing off as a mordant joke. But it seems to be in earnest. This is problematic. If Jason Pierce still sincerely feels that “Sometimes I wish that I was dead/Because only the living can feel the pain” (‘Little Girl’) he needs therapy, sharpish; if that’s artistic licence his should be revoked. One or two weepies for old time’s sake would be just about manageable but 'Sweet Heart, Sweet Light' oozes sullen pretension from every overblown orchestral interlude. “Heartache and pain in love/That’s what you get,” Spaceman mopes on ‘Too Late’. All the essential information about ‘Life Is a Problem’ is contained in the title but, in case you missed the message J’s been sending for the last quarter century he’s “lost and […] gone” and his “willpower’s never too strong.” The guest appearance of Spaceman progeny Poppy on ‘So Long You Pretty Thing’ strikes a (metaphorical) false note, too. The fact he has an 11-year-old daughter suggests his life isn’t quite the emotional wasteland his lyrics make it out to be, a hypocrisy which makes the gloom even less palatable. My ancient affection for Spiritualized makes me want to like this record but I don’t. Spiritualized’s squalls of psychedelic guitar are present and correct (‘I Am What I Am’), as is the trademark Oxycontin-laced gospel (lead single ‘Hey Jane’) but the usual just isn’t enough. The odd moment sparkles: ‘Freedom’ is rather bullish, and charming, as is ‘I Am What I Am’. But on the whole 'Sweet Heart, Sweet Light' is like the buzz of a clinically depressed fly trapped in amber. At best, it’s a cautionary tale about what happens when a man spends too long gazing at exactly the same spot on his navel.

Track Listing:-
1 Hey Jane
2 Little Girl
3 You Get What You Deserve
4 Too Late
5 Headin For The Top Now
6 Freedom
7 I Am What I Am
8 Mary
9 Life Is A Problem
10 So Long You Pretty Thing

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Interview with Jason Pierce (2004)
Spiritualized - Interview with Jason Pierce
Backstage at a gig in Exeter, Spiritualized frontman Jason Pierce talks to Ben Howarth about the band's latest album 'Amazing Grace' and the group's current hard touring schedule

live reviews

Royal Festival Hall, London, 1/8/2004
Spiritualized - Royal Festival Hall, London, 1/8/2004
In the luxurious surroundings of London's Royal Festival Hall, Dominic Simpson watches Spiritualized play a frequently spellbinding set, but is left wondering, after 20 years of perfecting his vision, where frontman Jason Pierce might go next
Lemon Grove, Exeter University, Exeter, 3/2/2004

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