Release Date: May 27, 2008
Record label: Fontana Universal
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
“I think I’ll drink myself into a coma”, begins the central song on Spiritualized’s terrific new album, Songs in A&E. The song, Death Take Your Fiddle, is central because it gets at the core tension in Jason Pierce’s best work – the tension between the will to live and the desire to die. This tension accounts for his fascination with guns, but also with fire, the source of both light and destruction.
But this isn't a song about dying; it's a song about coming close and cheating it; it's eerie. The proof? The next two tracks: "I Gotta Fire," and "Soul on Fire." The former is a taut, "Gimme Shelter"-esque rocker, the latter, a lush, uptempo love song. "Sitting on Fire" is a beautifully orchestrated love song: it's an admission of weakness and codependency but celebrates both of them at the same time: "Baby, I'm sitting on fire/but the flames put a hole in my heart/when we're together we stand so tall/But a part of me falls to the floor/Sets me free /I do believe it'll burn up in me for the rest of my life." Strings, vibes, marimbas, and drums crash in to the center of the mix carrying the protagonist into oblivion.
Much of Jason Pierce’s reinvigorated creativity on Songs In A&E (Accident And Emergency) has been attributed to the fragile frontman’s hospitalization after a near-?death bout with pneumonia. True, there’s a white-?walled desperation on songs like Death Take Your Fiddle (complete with respirator sound flourish), while others look upwards for mercy, like angelic Sweet Talk. But Spiritualized always had that out-?of-?body, walk-?toward-?the-?light quality; Pierce just seems to be doing it better now than on the last two albums.
It's been some time since Spiritualized's last album, 2003's Amazing Grace, an uneven if moderately rewarding album that, following the oppressively ornate Let It Come Down, seemed to find Jason Pierce at a bit of a loss. Obviously, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space was a difficult act to follow: all too often, releasing a universally-acclaimed album leads to a stumbling sequel. The artist inevitably faces the question of how to duplicate the success without rehashing the formula.