Review Summary: 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. The front man mentioned these songs are like a soundtrack to a lonely drive through the American desert, so freedom is a recurring theme. His lyrics have always touched dark topics, as well as several vices or issues that pieced together the portrait of a man who constantly deceives his significant other. Nevertheless, the music sounds more optimistic this time around, gathering influences from the band’s discography. Most prevalent are grandiose LPs such as Let it Come Down
or Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space
, which shaped a great part of their sound.
The engine slowly starts with ‘A Perfect Miracle’, a sunny, ukulele-led ditty. The swaying verses reminisce the title track off Ladies and Gentlemen…
, whereas the orchestral touches are pristine. The beautiful intro gives way to the first single, ‘I’m Your Man’, whose slow, waltzing rhythm is nicely assisted by restrained guitars and lovely brass sections. As Pierce’s gentle voice is overtaken by the instrumental on the choruses, you can clearly hear the multiple layers unfolding. There was actually a lot of effort put into piecing And Nothing Hurt
together, like cutting several sonic bits from different records to fit on certain parts (the violins are an example and other instruments Jason cannot play). It was a painstaking move that now the man himself admitted it was pointlessly hard to do, yet a limited budget was also a reason for this decision. Some songs feature more than a hundred recorded tracks & samples, still the results feel more intimate than you’d expect. ‘Here it Comes (The Road) Let’s Go’ or ‘Let’s Dance’ sound as if Spiritualized are playing in your bedroom, before gradually building up. The former takes its cues from gospel music, using sing-alongs alongside background vocals, while the latter’s joyful piano chords are augmented by trumpets and saxophone. Hell doesn’t break loose life before, however, they breathe life into the so far placid record.
There are only two rockers on And Nothing Hurt
, finally showing themselves halfway through. I was expecting them most, because these rock ‘n’ roll outings have become rarer with each LP. ‘On the Sunshine’ features more urgent vocals and the music feels tensed, ready to burst into some psychedelic freak outs. The sharp, distorted guitars soar behind Pierce until the last minute, when feedback & a drum solo make way for an energetic coda. Luckily, further noisy segments are to be found on ‘The Morning After’. The rather disjointed boogie grooves leave the second half for the horn section, keyboards and guitars to rage. They create a Blackstar
vibe only gone wrong, but this dissonance is actually refreshing. Up to this point, everything felt too carefully placed on the album, a weird thing for a Spiritualized one. Unfortunately, the last two cuts tone down the experience, returning to the mellow pace we got accustomed to. ‘The Prize’ offers a smooth transition to melodic parts, having oscillators progressively fading out during the first minute, before the bass lightly joins the drums. Its lovely, holistic finale finds Jason questioning his feelings towards his partner. Then, closing number, ‘Sail on Through’ offers the answer and could easily double as a swan song. He needs to be free, so using lush chords to send his deceiving message creates a bittersweet ending to this journey.
Initially, And Nothing Hurt
was supposed to be J Spaceman’s final record. However, since its release he’s not so sure about it anymore. Probably the long process of piecing hundreds of tracks together alone took its toll on his patience, but the man had had some life threatening health issues that might have contributed to his initial decision too. Nevertheless, this LP successfully condenses Spiritualized’s discography into a cohesive, 48-minute listen. There aren’t any revolutionary moments here, so if Jason doesn’t feel like releasing any new efforts in the future, this is definitely a strong way to say goodbye. There’s no filler, each tune sharing something interesting or catchy. My only complaint is the slight lack of punchier cuts. He could have added one cocky, noisy track such as ‘Electricity’, which I find amazing. Even so, I understand it might have been out of context here. All in all, the LP is easily enjoyable and stands on its own very well. Dig it.