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Let It Come Down

Spiritualized

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Album Review

Jason Pierce has never shied away from changes in pursuit of his artistic goals. He traded Spacemen 3's white-hot intensity for the gentler ebb and flow of Spiritualized, and took things a step further by firing the rest of the band after their greatest success, Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space. Let It Come Down is another step in Pierce's difficult, single-minded creative path. To craft the album's epic sound, Pierce sang the melodies into a Dictaphone, translated them to piano, and then transposed them into orchestral arrangements. This painstaking process results in an album that is equal parts intimate confessions and ambitious soundscapes, yet, despite the lineup changes and its lengthy inception, Let It Come Down doesn't sound radically different from Spiritualized's previous albums, proving for once and all that Pierce is Spiritualized and Spiritualized is Pierce. Instead, it feels like a natural progression from the densely orchestrated space rock of the first three Spiritualized albums, especially on the bleak, bluesy "Out of Sight" and the plaintive "Don't Just Do Something." Sweeping, stratospheric string and brass sections dominate the album, with over 100 musicians surrounding Pierce's frail, desolate vocals on some songs. Indeed, the lushness of the arrangements sometimes overpowers the album's relatively straightforward songwriting, particularly on tracks like "Anything More." While country and gospel influences bring the beautiful "Do It All Over Again" and "Won't Get to Heaven (The State I'm In)" back down to earth, Let It Come Down's elaborate sound doesn't always make its songs particularly accessible. When Pierce dares to keep things relatively simple, as on the insistent, yearning "I Didn't Mean to Hurt You" and the finale, "Lord Can You Hear Me," the emotional impact is stunning; the rockers "On Fire" and "The Twelve Steps" also cut the album's scope down to size in a direct, gripping way. Let It Come Down is another masterfully made Spiritualized album, but its very ambitions sometimes overwhelm it.

Biography

Formed: 1989 in Rugby, Warwickshire, England

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Formed from the ashes of the trance-rockers Spacemen 3, singer/guitarist Jason Pierce's group Spiritualized did not break away from his prior band's trademark hypnotic minimalism; instead, they perfected it. Drawing on the continued influence of the Velvet Underground, La Monte Young, and Steve Reich, Spiritualized staked out a common ground between minimalism and lush symphonics — while powered by simple, repetitious motifs, their songs simultaneously blossomed into rich, shimmering sonic...
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