Spiritualized - Amazing Grace
4 (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Oct. 13, 2003
Review by Tony BonyataEither Jason Pierce has been listening to a lot of The White Stripes lately or he was neck-deep in the mosh pit at one of the few recent reunion appearances of Iggy and The Stooges. That's because on his band Spiritualized's latest platter Amazing Grace, this vocalist, guitarist and space captain has traded in much of the lush, psychedelic soundscapes of previous efforts to deliver Amazing Grace; a decidedly more stripped down, immediate and, quite surprisingly, balls-out rock album.
Recorded live in the studio with minimal overdubs in only three weeks, Pierce states that Amazing Grace is "the least constructed and best recorded LP Spiritualized have made." And with an unbridled raw feel which mirrors their live shows - something that Pierce admits was their goal before ever stepping into the studio - this album turns out to be not only their most textured and varied production, but, quite arguably, their strongest to date.
Following on the heels of their 2001 outing Let It Come Down, Amazing Grace still retains many the beautiful, and often haunting, melodies that have materialized throughout much of their back catalog, only here we're immediately clobbered with mirky guitars, hammering piano and primal rhythms on the opening track "This Little Life of Mine" that you would have never imagined coming from this band. While Pierce continues to wake up the neighborhood on garage rockers such as "She Kissed Me (and It Felt Like a Hit)," "Never Goin' Back" and "Cheapster," melodic beauty still abounds on the album through the numbers "Rated X," the gospel-infused "Lord Let It Rain On Me," the Dylan-esque folk of "Hold On" and the majestic ending track "Lay It Down Slow." And for those who have been drawn to this band like an alien abduction to the Fox Network for their previous affinity to Pink Floyd, there is also light at the end of the tunnel on the number "Oh Baby," which successfully ties together the vocal angst of Roger Waters along with David Gilmour's mesmeric guitar lines.
Just as Dylan outraged many of his fans when he beefed up his simple bareboned folk songs with a 'plugged in' electric edge back in 1965 (arguably one the smartest career moves in his history), Spiritualized have raised the bar for themselves - and their fans - with an album that hiply finds them reexamining the raw, reverberating sounds between man and AC powered instruments on a trip home from their long interstellar overdrive excursion.
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