Spiritualized – Sweet Heart Sweet Love (Domino)
April 22, 2012 by Fran Jolley
Jason Peirce has been around for over twenty years as one of the heads of the space rock movement and beyond. He pretty much paved the way for albums to be albums in the 90s. Expensive pill shaped boxes, over long space-rock ballads, served up with strings and feedback – think Elbow on a lot of cocaine.
Spiritualized have never exactly been a singles band. Pierce loves an epic; an average track usually zooms past the five minute mark. Take ‘Hey Jane’, at just under the radio–friendly nine minute barrier, it’s the most commercial track on the album and surely if he allowed someone to release an edited down version he would be onto a winner. Ultimately, Peirce is his own man and has always had a much focused vision for his albums – he takes years to release one and it’s only on his own terms.
With ‘Sweet Heart Sweet Love’ Pierce has produced (for him) a rather commercial sounding album and throughout there are flashes of the band’s former glory. ‘Headin’ for the Top’ shimmers itself along a journey of feedback and has the repetitive vocal melody of their previous single ‘Come Together’. But like much of his 90s work there are moments of real beauty and heartache – especially the delicate ‘Life is a Problem’, which goes hand in hand with the lyrical themes of love and religion that hold the album together. The Brian Wilson comparisons are easily recognised throughout especially on ‘Freedom’, which could would of easily fitted on a later Beach Boys release.
‘Sweet Heart Sweet Love’ is definitely not their best work, but this is a step back in the right direction and a reminder of how influential Spiritualized are. The more acid rocking moments maybe over repetitive and needing some more direction but there definitely more than enough to interest old and new fans into the crazy world of Spiritualized. Just listen to the closing track ‘So Long You Pretty Thing’. It’s basically what the band are all about; a slow piano torch song that moves slowly into gospel before opening out its arms into a stadium anthem. Welcome back Spiritualized we missed you.