Music News

Spiritualized

While defying the barriers of his preceding albums, Spiritualized mastermind Jason Pierce cleaves to a few signature elements. He'll always dwell obsessively on lyrical themes of Jesus and existentialism, as well as both love and drug addiction. The guitar work consistently has an interstellar/psychedelic vibe, recalling Pierce's legendary former group Spacemen 3 (as well as that band's inspiration, the Velvet Underground).

Yet with Let It Come Down, the group's fourth full-length, Pierce has once again found a way to renew Spiritualized while staying true to the band's contemplative, narcotic essence. A gospel choir and a full symphonic orchestra have been added to the lineup, making for a beefy, Sensurround sound. This is also the first Spiritualized album on which each track stands independently; on previous records many songs seamlessly melted into one another. Furthermore the album contains no stand-alone noise orgy, drone, or instrumental. This might even come to be called Spiritualized's most accessible album.

With Let It Come Down, Pierce's heart-rending, meticulous arrangements surge the power and elegance. Even the songs that don't include massive symphony swells come across thick and potent. Pierce's painstaking production brings out the noisy character of "The Twelve Steps" without sacrificing the ornate details of the instrumentation. But the highlights must be the majestic, superorchestral moments of "Stop Your Crying" and "I Didn't Mean to Hurt You." Mr. Spaceman's trademark ring-tosses of hyperbole -- "I miss you like I miss the water when I'm burning" from "I Didn't Mean to Hurt You" -- are the perfect overstatements to complement Let It Come Down's gliding melodies, harmonies, and dynamics, which run through your ears and penetrate deep into your chest.

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Hans Morgenstern has contributed to Miami New Times for too many decades, but he's grown to love Miami's arts and culture scene because of it. He is the chair of the Florida Film Critics Circle, and most of his film criticism can be found on Independent Ethos (indieethos.com) if not in New Times.