Spiritualized

And Nothing Hurt

Fat Possum

Sep 12, 2018 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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Fresh off a six-year break from 2012's Sweet Heart Sweet Light, Jason Pierce's acclaimed space-rock outfit, Spiritualized makes a lush return with their seventh full-length, And Nothing Hurt.

If there's one major categorical difference between this and their last record, it's in the aesthetic shift back to a previous Spiritualized era. Sweet Heart Sweet Light featured a more go-ahead pop attitude, complete with an album cover that even appears more straightforward (despite it's inquisitive "Huh?"). And Nothing Hurt, then, feels more like the Spiritualized of old: the space theme makes an impactful homecoming, with frontman Jason Pierce appearing in spacesuit on the cover and in the music video for album single "I'm Your Man."

And Nothing Hurt, in more ways than one, sounds like the band coming full circle: album opener, "A Perfect Miracle," sounds eerily similar to the opener and titular track to the band's revered third album, Ladies and Gentlemen We're Floating Through Space (1997). This notion might alarm fans, as Pierce told The Independent back in 2016 that the follow-up to Sweet Heart Sweet Light would be his last. A decision reportedly based more out of creative fatigue than health concerns, Pierce claims he's explored all the ideas he wants to explore; that the next Spiritualized record would have to be better than his past work in order for it to be worth the effort. And Nothing Hurt was certainly worth the toil: the album is equal parts melancholic beauty and pinpointed creativity. Pierce, rather than consulting a massive orchestra, instead turned to Pro Tools to piece together the nine tracks on the new album. 

There's a certain level of maturity (or rather, adult exhaustion) featured on And Nothing Hurt, the album plays like a sprawling, expertly orchestrated rumination on what it means to reach middle age. "A Perfect Miracle" is a mix of ukulele-led whimsy and apathetic distance: amidst a croaking harmony and waltz backdrop, Pierce sings, "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." The somber "I'm Your Man" further highlights the romantic apathy of the record, with the line "If you want wasted, loaded, permanently folded/Doing the best that he can/I'm your man," set against a freewheeling fanfare.

While "Here It Comes (The Road) Let's Go" focuses on physical escape, the slowed down "Let's Dance" centers on staying put and dancing the night away. The overdriven track "On the Sunshine" maintains some Spacemen 3 sensibilities and is perhaps the heaviest track on the album (second only to "The Morning After," whose story about a girl on the run pulsates through heavy reverb, harmonica, and squealing horns). "Damaged," "The Prize," and "Sail On Through" have a clearheaded, forward-looking attitude that perfectly complement the first third of the album.

In all, And Nothing Hurt is nothing short of gorgeous: lush arrangements placed deftly upon somber subject matter. The resulting record is a fitting return for the spaced out and thoughtful. (www.spiritualized.com)

Author rating: 9/10

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