After Spiritualized’s last tour (where they played the entirety of 1997′s landmark Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space every show), Jason Pierce and Co. returned to the studio and decided to mine that goldmine again, hoping to strike it rich once more. As a big fan of that album I’ve got to say that it worked pretty much as intended.
If they had made Sweet Heart, Sweet Light right after Ladies and Gentlemen…, critics and maybe even fans would have said that there was no willingness to experiment, that there was stagnation in the band, that Spiritualized would just rehash Ladies and Gentlemen… with diminishing returns until eventually calling it quits. But by recording SH, SL after three very different albums, a return to the sound and the attitude of Ladies and Gentlemen… sounds fresh but more importantly, psychedelic and very good.
The choral arrangements, diverse instrumentation and big studio production combined with that aforementioned love of 60′s psychedelia might be covering familiar ground, but it’s ground so open and expansive that I would forgive Pierce for making album after album after EP after yet another album sounding just like this. Maybe it’s a double standard since I like to see bands unafraid of experimentation and change , but also there is something to be said for discovering and perfecting that “signature sound” that some bands find. Spiritualized found it back in 1997, and reusing it now feels a little bit like a homecoming.
This one is worth a listen for sure. Caution: it is a bit long in the tooth, at just over an hour. A band unafraid to use every instrument at their disposal (where else can you hear a string section playing nice with a banjo?), and executing their lead songwriter’s vision to near perfection, Spiritualized’s return to their top form is more the sure thing than the bold experiment. But we can all use a sure thing every once in a while. I give Sweet Heart, Sweet Light four Halls out of five Oates.
Watch the music video for the album’s first single, Hey Jane.