Review Summary: One of the most accomplished Spiritualized albums.
With Sweet Heart Sweet Light
, Spiritualized's 7th full length, the band have created a more immediate record, much like previous effort Songs In A&E
, but more versatile just like the now classic Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
. While Songs In A&E
, had a more intimate approach, here the songs are blessed with a more grandiose orchestration and a full use of that gospel-like choir never absent from any Spiritualized record.
Sweet Heart Sweet Light
starts strong with the 60's influenced pounding first single, "Hey Jane", a typical Spritualized garage blues sing along. "Hey Jane" doesn't break new grounds for the band, but features all you can expect from them: a stomping rhythm with twangy guitars culminating in a frenzied breakdown, only to restart to a great hypnotic end section. Another highlight is "Little Girl", a beautiful laid-back song, with some really nice orchestra touches working here at their best. The verses grow to a lovely chorus where the choir joins Jason Pierce to an exquisite result. "Little Girl" might be the closest to the 2001's somewhat underrated release, Let It Come Down
. Still, it's more intimate, never being drowned by the grandiosity that sometimes made that album too much. Still, the meticulous attention to details is present here, albeit in a more concise way.
After a top notch start, the middle section of the album feels rather stagnant. Tracks like "Get What You Deserve" and "Headin' For The Top Now" are great but they are missing that edginess Ladies And Gentlemen
's "Electricity", "Cop Shoot Cop" or even Songs In A&E
's "You Lie You Cheat" have. The feedback-driven, screeching guitars behind Pierce's confined vocals are all waiting to set off, but when they should, the track comes to an end. This way they're mostly droning for 6 or 8 minutes leaving the listener to wait for the grand finale when there isn't really one. However, in between these two beasts there is another gem, and that is "Too Late". Jason's mournful croons over a warm instrumental section really give this track a nostalgic beauty.
The record picks up towards the end with "Mary", an almost jazzy number, filled with trademark wah wah pedals and a groovy bass line. They all provide the finest background for a 3-minute long shrilling guitar solo, the best this album has to offer. Even if is not that insane, it gives a feeling of controlled chaos, which the band rarely does. The final track, "So Long You Pretty Things" is one of the most progressive tracks Spiritualized released so far. Beginning with a quiet duet between Jason and his daughter Poppy, the track first grows to a heartbroken ballad with a beautiful piano line. There is also a banjo in the background that surprisingly adds much to the atmosphere of the song. Also, when the choir joins in, it gives "So Long You Pretty Things" a serene new dimension. Towards the end of the song, they just keep repeating the chorus each time going bigger and bigger, ending this album on a great note.
Lyrically, there's the same naked sincerity towards spirituality and impending doom Jason Pierce has always had. The nihilist views on life and the fall from the straight and narrow path of equilibrium are featured throughout the album as always. Still, this might become tiresome for the listener because these are the same subjects he tackled on for quite a long time now. It would be nice to see Pierce step out of the comfort zone and write something different, possibly more uplifting. But this opinion might differ for each listener.
Overall, Sweet Heart Sweet Light
might be the closest in sound to Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
, but there is something missing from the final product and that is the edginess and unpredictability the band previously had. There's nothing here as wild or as genuinely sincerity (see "Broken Heart") as songs found on Ladies And Gentlemen
for example, but still, this album is nothing close to disappointment. By far, this album has a lot to offer, there's nothing to skip here because this is one of the most accomplished Spiritualized albums. However, it doesn't have that spark to outlast its aforementioned predecessor.
Highlights - "Little Girl", "Mary", "Too Late", "Hey Jane" & "So Long You Pretty Things"