There was always a neat symmetry in the pharmaceutical-themed packaging of Spiritualized‘s coruscating late ’90s output: music as drug, drug as music. But the hospital theme of Spiritualized’s long-awaited new album, Songs in A&E, has taken on a more sober resonance since founding member Jason Pierce’s 2005 spell in intensive care, following an attack of double pneumonia. Before his illness Pierce had completed most of the songwriting for the band’s sixth album, but two years would pass before the songs could receive studio attention.
It comes as no surprise then, that Songs in A&E is heavy on pain and melancholy, but ultimately a work of personal redemption. The paint-stripping gales of feedback and free noise of Ladies And Gentlemen have receded, revealing songs that range from the exquisite Sitting On Fire to the chilling Death Take Your Fiddle. As ever, basic blues patterns underpin Pierce’s songwriting, and the gospel warmth that the band adopted on Amazing Grace remains. The old reverb switch does get flicked on Yeah Yeah and You Lie You Cheat, but for all the upheaval involved in its creation, Songs in A&E maintains a natural development in the band’s career: quieter, yes, but as thunderously emotive as ever.
Songs in A&E is out now on Spaceman Records
Spiritualized play the Hydro Connect festival at Inverary on 30 Aug.