Review Summary: Ladies and Gentlemen, Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt
In 2018, Jason Pierce hinted And Nothing Hurt
might be Spiritualized’s final studio album. It wasn’t and that’s a good thing. The respective release was tight and shared a number of brilliant moments, however, looking back, it feels too sedated for the front man to go out on a high note. Also, to complete the Kurt Vonnegut quote, the group returned with Everything Was Beautiful
, a far more fitting way to call it a day if the subject is still in talks. The gist of the record stems from the same recording sessions as its predecessor, yet often these tracks sound celebratory rather than defeated. As per usual, the man took cues from all over his discography to craft the songs. The results are familiar, but effective anyway. Just like the registered trademark sign used next to the band’s name, at this point, Pierce can receive a genre tag of his own.
If you listened to the act before, you could easily guess what you would be about to hear. Every sonic layer here oozes that Spiritualized sound, ranging from the soft blend of gospel, blues and acoustic melodies to the noisy, jazz-infused garage rock. Although the latter part has been toned down lately, we can enjoy several powerful segments on Everything Was Beautiful
. “Best Thing You Never Had” is one of the highlights, relying on a kraut rock echoing motorik beat, whereas the guitars drift in the background. The accompanying gospel vocals, as well as the saxophone leads add considerably to the sonic abundance. Same goes for “The Mainline Song”, which is based on similar patterns, plus an uplifting bass rhythm. It keeps growing with the help of rather jolly hums, harmonica lines and playful brass leads. Right after, “The A Song” kicks in with a pounding groove, pushed by piano chords and expanding horn sections. The tune gets slowly buried by just the right amount of a psychedelic freak out, something the group excels at. After a brief return to the main hook, the wall of noise increases once more towards the end, bursting in all directions. Then we get to the final cut, “I’m Coming Home Again”, a 10-minute epic that just continues the winning streak. Everyone plays as if on the verge of snapping, the bass leading the lush orchestral layer, complete with lovely background vocals, Mellotron and flute solos. Although nowhere as noisy as “The A Song”, a smooth, hypnotic effect sets in, especially during the latter half.
Overall, the journey Everything Was Beautiful
creates is definitely more entrancing and vivid than And Nothing Hurt
. I’m glad Jason decided to keep things at a manageable length of 43 minutes, because it allows you to experience all Spiritualized’s strengths without exhausting you. Despite this, the album still presents itself as a rich sonic puzzle with dozens of unfolding parts. This would be a suitable endpoint for the band, if it was the case. I hope Pierce keeps recreating his version of the blues for a little longer though.