Pablo’s Choice Record Of The Week 07/09/2018 – Spiritualized – And Nothing Hurt
7th September 2018
A real return to form by J Spaceman and Spiritualized, its great to have them back..Heres what the press think.
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.
“There isn’t a single bit on that record where anybody plays in the same room as somebody else is playing,” he told the New York Times last month. “It feels like the most ludicrous way of putting something together, and the longer it went on the more stupid it seemed.” The effort paid off, but in a way that is perhaps unexpected.
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.
It might not have worked out this way. Mr Pierce’s self-medicated ’indulgences’ could have set him on a path to a medical facility of some sort – after all, his previous band, Spacemen 3 recorded albums with snappy tiles like Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To. Fortunately for us, he was clear headed enough to piece together what is undoubtably one of the finest albums of 2018……Read More
There’s a particular sort of mental gymnastic routine that music critics must bust out when we’re considering new works from old idols: Is it really that good? Or do I just want it to be that good? We, as a profession, have heaped so much praise on so many late-period Bob Dylan albums, and some of us don’t want to get caught again in the act of hero-worship. So a great album from someone who’s already made plenty of great albums somehow gets more scrutiny than a great album from someone who’s just showed up, fresh and scrubbed. That’s where we schizophrenically force our fan-brains and our critic-brains into different channels. As a fan, I am extremely psyched to hear every new Rancid album. As a critic, I have to acknowledge, to myself and to the world, that Rancid haven’t done anything truly transcendent since Life Won’t Wait, or maybe since Indestructible. As a fan, I love Bun B like he was my own uncle. As a critic, I snorted out loud when The Source gave five mics to Trill OG.
All of which is to say: The new Spiritualized album is fucking great. It’s awesome. It’s suspiciously awesome. Jason Pierce has been putting out Spiritualized records for 28 years. If you include his years of service with drug-rock sungazers Spacemen 3, he’s been on the job for well over 30 years. And he’s never put out a record that’s anything less than great. (Amazing Grace is the worst Spiritualized album, and Amazing Grace fucking rules.) And yet it doesn’t seem possible for a new Spiritualized album to be as good as And Nothing Hurt is….Read More
Jason Pierce, the mastermind behind Spiritualized, has always had a knack for stamping his own sonic identity onto his recordings, from the opening bars to the closing swells of synths. It takes approximately twelve seconds of the opening track – the second you hear his voice – before you realise that this is it: you’re inside another Spiritualized record.
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. He used sporadic studio sessions to record the instruments that were proving just too difficult to capture at home….Read More
“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. But that song’s sense of childlike wonder is fractured, the telluric “house on the hill” isn’t exactly a safe haven, and the smoochy sentiment we expect is overridden by a sad plea: “please don’t call”.
There is a kind of symbiosis between the two albums. Indeed, ‘And Nothing Hurt’ was originally pushed back so as to put up a partition between it and 2016’s ‘Ladies and Gentlemen…’ shows at the Barbican. It was these performances that also prompted Pierce to revisit what he’d already come up with. And like ‘Ladies and Gentlemen…’, what follows the lulling-but-kind-of-bruised opener is beefed-up, multi-layered, a bit bluesier and more in tune with that nebulous thing called ‘rock’n’roll’.
On ‘Let’s Dance’, Pierce positions himself precisely as that, the “lonely rock’n’roller”, and while Ariel Pink (with whom Pierce collaborated on ‘Pom Pom’) comes on a touch parodic when he sings, “I’m just a rock’n’roller from Beverly Hills”, this seems sincere. (Another takeaway from this song: if Big Star are “on the radio”, he probably listens to 6 Music.)….Read More