Albums Of The Week

Leaving in a cosmic blaze of glory

Singer and songwriter Jason Pierce strikes a more positive note in Spiritualized’s swan song And Nothing Hurt.
Singer and songwriter Jason Pierce strikes a more positive note in Spiritualized’s swan song And Nothing Hurt. PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/ OFFICIALSPZD

More than three decades after making space-faring music, singer and songwriter Jason Pierce, founder and the only permanent member of acclaimed English band Spiritualized, might finally be coming down back to Earth for good.

The 52-year-old said in recent interviews that their eighth album, called And Nothing Hurt, would be their swan song.

If this is truly the last album from the influential band, then it is the sound of a group going out in a cosmic blaze of glory.

And Nothing Hurt has all the euphoric, neo-psychedelia energy that marked the band's discography, most notably their seminal third album Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, which marked its 20th anniversary last year.

The nine songs, clocking at just under 50 minutes, is a heady voyage that blends cinematic rock, R&B, free jazz, blues, gospel and more.

It is a meticulously put together piece of work which comes six years after their last release, 2012's Sweet Heart, Sweet Light.

Despite Pierce's reported ill health, he spent much of his waking hours alone in his home studio working on the new album. Unlike the dark material found in previous albums, he seems to strike a more positive note in the new songs.




    Fat Possum/ Bella Union

    4 stars

There are plenty of buoyant, garage rock bangers. In On The Sunshine, exuberant saxophones blare amid a rushed beat as he sings: "When you reach the ends of all your lines/Then tie a knot and swing."

Let's Dance (I should get away/ But I would rather stay and dance/ C'mon darling let's dance) echoes the orchestral pop of the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds era, while Here It Comes (The Road) Let's Go has a meta message about tripping out to the kind of music that the band play.

Other tunes see him confessing to be a flawed romantic.

"If I weren't loaded down/I would sail on through for you," he croons on Sail On Through, one of the album's most grandiose tracks.

He apologises for being distant to loved ones in the densely layered album opener Perfect Miracle: "Darling, you know I'm sorry/I won't get to see you today/My mind is a mess and I'm needing you less/Give me a call in a little while."

But even as the subjects are sometimes sombre, the dreamy and lush arrangements make And Nothing Hurt a compelling listen and a fitting final chapter.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2018, with the headline 'Leaving in a cosmic blaze of glory'. Print Edition | Subscribe