SPIRITUALIZED – ” Everything Was Beautiful “

Posted: April 21, 2022 in MUSIC

In Kurt Vonnegut’s famous examination of war, “everything was beautiful” is something that the main character considers getting inscribed on his tombstone. “Everything was beautiful” would be a nice way to welcome in the afterlife on its own, but that’s not the whole of it – what Billy (he’s called Billy) actually considers chiselling into the granite is “everything was beautiful and nothing hurt”.

As such, when Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized broke a six-year LP duck with 2018’s ‘And Nothing Hurt’, it wasn’t hard to anticipate the title of the follow-up. There’s probably a wry bit of jokery going on here too Spiritualized has long felt like a project whose existence is predicated on the amplification of the past, As such, the way that ‘Everything Is Beautiful’ will indeed form the full phrase with ‘And Nothing Hurt’ while scrolling down a streaming service interface feels like Pierce indulging in a bit of light hearted ribbing about the times a-changed.

During lockdown last year, J Spaceman would walk through an empty “Roman London” where the world was “full of birdsong and strangeness”, trying to make sense of all the music playing in his head at the time. The mixers and mixes of his new record weren’t working out yet. Spaceman plays 16 different instruments on “Everything Was Beautiful” which was put down at 11 different studios, as well as at his home.

He also employed more than 30 musicians and singers including his daughter Poppy, long-time collaborator and friend John Coxon, string and brass sections, choirs and finger bells and chimes from the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. Eventually the mixes got there and “Everything Was Beautiful” was achieved.

The most arresting moments of ‘Everything Was Beautiful’ are when Spiritualized get their Lou Reed or. ‘Let It Bleed’s Sixties links go further than the title, but while the Stones are detectable in this track’s spirit’s-moving-now coda, it’s the street-level paeans of ‘Transformer’ that are channelled most concertedly here. The following cut ‘Crazy’, though those excellent recent Lavender Country reissues mean that I actually think of Patrick Haggerty’s project first and foremost when hearing this (did Haggerty and Reed ever meet? I sense they’d have got on.)

Spiritualized cook on gas at the front and back ends of ‘Everything Was Beautiful’. That Reedvivalism comes together with hazed motorika to pleasing effect on ‘Best Thing You Never Had’, the overall result of which is kind of like Alabama 3 if they skewed more towards Can. ‘Mainline’ might not be quite as much of a perpetual-motion sprawl, but the way the track’s beatific instrumental climbs ever higher has that same sense of ecstatic repetition about it.

The result is some of the most “live” sounding recordings that Spiritualized have released since the “Live At The Albert Hall” record of 1998, around the time of “Ladies & Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space

The energy of ‘Mainline’ flows outwards to invigorate the album’s final straight. ‘The A Song (Laid In Your Arms)’ is an exemplary bit of Spiritualization – so well does the track subsume well-wrought melodiousness into widescreen psychscapes that you’d be forgiven for mistaking it from a cut from one of the group’s classic Nineties LPs. The same goes for the slow-burn of ‘I’m Coming Home Again’, nine minutes of slowly apexing gospel-ish harmony-rock spiked with a searing electric guitar tone.

Everything Was Beautiful” by Spiritualized is magnificent and everyone agrees with me yay!

“An immaculate orb of grandiose space-rock. Pierce’s rare communications are generally breath-taking events, and “Everything Was Beautiful” is no different.” Classic Rock – 9/10

“A life-affirming masterpiece, as euphoric as music can be.” Classic Pop – 9/10

Jason Pierce continues to orbit high above a planet of his own making and all lovers of ambitious music should take note.” HiFi Choice – 4 stars ****

“A record that manages to be both direct and concise yet also wildly experimental, tender, nihilistic and joyous… It’s everything that you could want in a Spiritualized album.” Uncut – 9/10

“Much of “Everything Was Beautiful” has a vital, thundering pulse… Some fantastic songs aboard, too, including ‘Always Together With You’s Daniel Johnston-style naked expression of fatherly/romantic commitment, and a country-soul ballad, ‘Crazy’, complete with pedal steel. So, yes, utterly beautiful, as advertised.” MOJO – 4 stars ****

“An album chock-full of the soaring musical extravaganzas that make a Spiritualized record such an event.” Shindig – 5 stars *****

“A record that fills the void with ecstatic noise… Between Mainlines propulsive euphoria and the crashing grandeur of “The A Song (Laid In Your Arms)“, a declaration of belief in the restorative powers of consuming sound takes potent, peak-Spaceman form.” Record Collector – 4 stars ****

“Some of the most adventurous and mind-bending music that Spiritualized have ever released… This is one of the most potent expressions of Pierce’s vision to date.” PROG

“Chockful full of big songs, it packs a massive emotional punch. And it rocks too, with Pierce directing a choir and 30-odd musicians to create a lavish wall of sound on tracks like “Best Thing You Never Had”. If “Everything Was Beautiful” was a debut record it would be impressive. That it appears 25 years after their career high is nothing short of astonishing.” Morning Star – 5 stars *****

“Utilising 11 different studios and 30 different musicians, Pierce is clearly sacrificing none of that deliciously overblown pomp and swagger here, none of that ubiquitous bliss, not one brick from those enchanted fortresses of magisterial noise so synonymous with his work.” DIY

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