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Spiritualized-Everything Was Beautiful


Written Before Listen


Spiritualized is a band that I'm surprised still gets people listening. Their 1997 album “Ladies and Gentlemen We’re Floating Into Space” is one of the most quintessential psych rock albums of recent time and influential to indie and psych music today. Other than that album, I never really got into Spiritualized which is weird because I do like that album. I also like how they’re able to take the dreamier sounds of vintage music and were able to make it modern for the time. With that being said, this is the time to listen to another album of theirs as they recently dropped a new project, so without further ado, let’s get into it.


Production


One thing I will say about the Spiritualized sound is that their production is super cinematic and theatric. More than your usual rock record, even from the 90s. They tend to be experimental a lot with guitar tones and spaciness. The drums are not the tightest but the way they mix them sounds larger than life. The bass is devoted to the low end and the vocals have multiple takes brought to them. I will say that the production of them and Spiritualized, in general, is something to focus on.


Genre-Bending


I would say that the Spiritualized style of psych-rock is more toward the space rock of artists like Hawkwind and Gong, but what they do with it is keener than their 90s contemporaries at the time. Despite their sound being a little vintage, they sound like a 90s-bred band and they still do. The second track alone, “Best Thing You Never Had (The D Song)”, brings some of the purest forms of rock music. The driving beat, the melodic bassline, and crunchy guitar riffs sound like a mixture of a 90s alt-rock banger, krautrock, and a 60s garage rock song. The following track right after “Let It Bleed (For Iggy)” is their take on a 60s psych-pop track but with that Spiritualized flavor to it. Another left turn is the song “Crazy” which is a country song with a small psychedelic twist with its slide guitars, drum rhythm, and less spacey approach. I think these songs complete the record and “Best Thing You Never Had (The D Song)” is a great track that leans more in their comfort zone, but the country sounds a little forced and the baroque-tinged track is a little too focused on its dynamics. Do I like the attempts? I respect it, but I do think the best tracks on here are the ones that hoan the Spiritualized sound.

Instrumentation


Now let’s talk about the instrumentation. J Spaceman's band consists of 3 guitarists, a drummer, and a bassist. With that, we get a lot of wall of sound moments and some cool sound play. The opening track contains some passages that lean toward the Spector sound. “The Mainline Song” takes the grand guitar sound and makes something that reminds me of post-rock a little bit with its crescendos and drum work. I also like the instrumental of “Best Thing You Never Had (The D Song)” but what makes the track is the trombone solo at the tail end. It escapes the “classic rock” label. I also like the blemishes of synthesizers all over this album as it gives their sound that spacial quality they aim for. I think J Spaceman knows what he’s doing with the instrument choices.


Songwriting


The production and instrumentation are one thing on this album, but a lot of people also point to the songwriting that Spaceman brings. Right out of the gate, we get Spaceman talking about his willingness to do whatever he’s able to do for his significant other. The topic of love has multiple branches but leaning toward the romantic side is really what gives Spiritualized their staying power. “Let It Bleed (For Iggy)” is a similar situation but this time, the writer wants to write something so badly but can’t. It's kind of the turning point which makes him go crazy in the song appropriately titled…” Crazy”. A couple of tracks after, we get the tumultuous final track “I’m Coming Home Again” which is a cliffhanger of some sort and shows the writer experiencing existential dread. As you can see, the topics that Spaceman writes about aren’t the most original, but sometimes the purest topics are the ones that bring out some of the most relatable music.


Cons


Alongside the unsuccessful attempts at trying something new, I also think that this brings nothing new to the table for Spiritualized. I do enjoy this sound, but I feel like I got what I got from “Ladies and Gentlemen”. With that being said, if I’m in the mood for an album like this, I’ll probably revisit “Ladies and Gentlemen” over this album 9 times out of 10. Other than that, Spiritualized proves they still have what it takes to make a solid album.


Verdict


I’m glad I decided to review this. I think it’s a solid psych-rock record with a lot of cool moments. If you’re into that type of music, I highly recommend you give this a listen. I think it does come with some moments to talk about, which is never a bad thing. Overall, solid album.


6/10



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