Release Date: Sep 7, 2018
Record label: Fat Possum Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Fresh off a six-year break from 2012's Sweet Heart Sweet Light, Jason Pierce's acclaimed space-rock outfit, Spiritualized makes a lush return with their seventh full-length, And Nothing Hurt. If there's one major categorical difference between this and their last record, it's in the aesthetic shift back to a previous Spiritualized era. Sweet Heart Sweet Light featured a more go-ahead pop attitude, complete with an album cover that even appears more straightforward (despite it's inquisitive "Huh?").
Spiritualized’s lineup is notoriously unstable — it has featured a rotating cast of nearly 20 members in total, not counting session musicians — but And Nothing Hurts is the first album that Pierce recorded solo. Citing money problems, he recorded the majority of it in his bedroom on his laptop. Chasing a studio sound similar to classic Columbia and Capitol albums, Pierce strummed along to classical records, locating and sampling string sounds chord by chord until he could build the tracks himself.
Listen and subscribe via Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Radio Public | Stitcher | RSS The Lowdown: Outsized ambition has strained and broken other songwriting visionaries. Just look at Syd Barrett, or Brian Wilson post-Pet Sounds. Jason Pierce has similarly strained under the weight of his own songwriting largesse in the past, and yet Spiritualized's music has always had a certain levity to it, even when working through personal melodrama as it did so ably on yesteryear classics like Ladies and Gentlemen We are Floating in Space.
Six years have passed since Jason Pierce released the widely praised 'Sweet Heart Sweet Light', and it has at times felt like a new Spiritualized record may simply be wishful thinking. Having undergone chemotherapy for an unspecified illness in 2012, Jason's physical health has been a cause of concern, while financial constraints have also had a hand in his reduced output. With the release of 'And Nothing Hurt', he's continued to hint that this may be his final album.
Jason Pierce keeps on keeping on throughout this fragile, improbably beautiful ode to life itself Jason Pierce is the kind of guy who makes life hard for himself, and you have to admire people like that. His eighth album as Spiritualized, now a solo project, was recorded in the most difficult way possible. This is lush space-pop, crammed with complex string arrangements, countless guitar lines, dense percussion and rich soundscapes - yet he worked nearly completely alone, piecing the album together with little more than Pro Tools and a laptop.
A Spiritualized album arriving in 2018 requires one of those moments: we're really here. It's been more than 25 years since Lazer Guided Melodies (not to even mention Spacemen 3). That Spiritualized returned in 2012 with Sweet Heart Sweet Light felt like something of a minor miracle. That the band was still so vibrant, still searching, closer to a blessing.
The fact that it even sounds like a finished record is a miracle, really. The tapes of the original demos and recordings were allegedly held 'hostage' by the producer Youth (bassist in Killing Joke, mate of Paul McCartney), forcing Pierce to abandon any notion of a budget for recording. This act of sabotage forced him to record it, for the most part, in a room in his house.
Six years in the making, And Nothing Hurt, the eighth album by Spiritualized, is instantly recognizable for its trademark meld of garage rock, pillowy psychedelia, gospel, R&B, and blues via guitars, strings, horns, keyboards, and a stellar backing chorus in intimate, vulnerable, confessional songs. Since the early '90s (earlier if you count Spacemen 3), Jason Pierce has cultivated a lush production palette and songwriting style that often involves dozens of musicians in big-budget recording studios. This date follows that M.O.
Imagine a world where Keith muscled his way past Mick to helm the Stones and somehow had Jimmy Webb for a songwriter partner. Ta-dah! You've got Spiritualized. Except these days Spiritualized consists of just Jason Pierce painstakingly assembling this music on his own, in the spare room of his East London home. The humble location has no bearing on the music he makes, however and is as wide screen and cinematic as Pet Sounds, except, unlike Brian Wilson, he's landlocked and the noise of the occasional ambulance going by sometimes seeps into the songs. br> It might not have worked out this way.
Jason Pierce does not make casual records. Since the start of his career, nearly four decades ago, the co-founder of Spacemen 3 and the center of the Spiritualized universe has dived headlong into sounds, styles, and themes with ecclesiastical obsessiveness. In Spacemen 3, he created a funhouse of droning guitars and drugs, tunneling between primitive rock'n'roll and shamanistic hum as if following the true path to deliverance.
Goodbye? It's been a while since we listened to new Spiritualized music. Luckily, the troubled soul blues kicks back in full force, as Jason Pierce strove to create a record that reflects the passing of time and getting older. Therefore, to fit the themes, we hear less rock 'n' roll and more subdued, steady tempo tunes. At this point, there is nothing new to expect this project, just further consolidation of strengths.
Jason Pierce comes across as an obsessive, drug-fueled perfectionist who spends weeks getting just the right snare sound or agonizing over whether a song's bridge needs a vibraphone or another guitar overdub. But he's always been that way, so it was natural to wonder why it took until the recording of Spiritualized's eighth album, And Nothing Hurt, for Pierce to start confiding to the press about his creative exhaustion, going so far as to suggest that his days as J. Spaceman might be numbered.
T he duality of Jason Pierce is the subject of I'm Your Man, the second track on the eighth Spiritualized album. "I could be faithful, honest and true … dependable all down the line," Pierce sings in his fragile quaver. "But if you want wasted, loaded, permanently folded … I'm your man." Spiritualized are the bit that is dependable all down the line, making music that manages to be both hazy and focused, a daydream of gospel, rock'n'roll, country and psychedelia with an appeal that is at least in part dependent on an image of their leader as wasted, loaded and permanently folded.
"I want it to say something and be a big deal". So hoped J. Spaceman, or Jason Pierce, interviewed in 2017 during the making of his group's eighth record, their first in six years. Well, does it? 'A Perfect Miracle' is a reboot of the stelliferous beginning of 'Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space'; it's all woozy, slightly downcast bends and warm, enveloping textures, fragility, and it's got a similar hurried delivery.