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Music

Album of the Week: Spiritualized and the mesmeric ‘Everything Was Beautiful’

Spiritualized - 'Everything Was Beautiful'
8.9

Following last year’s acclaimed reissue of their first four albums, Spiritualized announced that they had been working on a new album. After a tense year of anticipation, the album is finally here, and it has been worth the wait.

Over the past few months, Everything Was Beautiful has been previewed with three singles, ‘Always Together With You’, ‘Crazy’ and ‘The Mainline Song’. In true Spiritualized fashion, these singles didn’t give any huge clues as to what we could expect from the album as a whole. One of the greatest qualities of Spiritualized is their unbridled exploration and intra-album eclecticism which is a trend upheld by this latest LP.

Frontman and creative lead Jason Pierce (aka J. Spaceman) conceived and built upon most of the ideas for Everything Was Beautiful during the various covid-19 lockdown periods. For most, the lockdowns were a very difficult time, but Pierce felt that he was built for the solitude and became increasingly creative during the isolated periods. “I felt like I had been training for this my whole life,” Pierce said of the pandemic. 

When working, Pierce prefers to work alone for the most part and likes to reword loneliness as “beautiful solitude”. During the pandemic, Pierce recalls walking through an empty “Roman London” where “even the sirens had stopped singing” and the world was “full of birdsong and strangeness and no contrails.” He used the birdsong that accompanied him on these walks to make sense of all the musical ideas tumbling around in his head. The ideas for his ninth studio album began to take shape.

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Commenting on his creative process, Pierce said: “There was so much information on it that the slightest move would unbalance it but going around in circles is important to me. Not like you’re spiralling out of control but you’re going around and around and on each revolution, you hold onto the good each time. Sure, you get mistakes as well, but you hold on to some of those too and that’s how you kind of… achieve. Well, you get there.”

We are now lucky enough to take another dive into the wonders of Pierce’s mind. What’s in store for us this time? 

The opener, ‘Always Together With You’, we are familiar with as the lead single from the album which was released in November last year. The song is a soaring rework of a track originally released as a demo in 2014. Pierce decided that the track needed a revisit to be released in its full glory. The refined beauty opens what promises to be a sentimental LP and comes with a style that is so quintessentially Spiritualized. ‘Always Together With You’ is for Everything Was Beautiful what the eponymous opener was for Ladies & Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space.

We meet our first unchartered territory with the second track, ‘Best Thing You Never Had’. The jaunty number adds a little bit of bite to the album as the pace picks up, and we get a hit of blues, jazz and gospel. We then enter ‘Let It Bleed (For Iggy)’, which takes the pace down with a beautiful, placating intro that leads into a choir-fuelled intensity as we enter the choruses. 

Entering the hot core of the album, we revisit the second and third singles that previewed the album. First with ‘Crazy’, a neo-country number that brings a tranquil sentimentality to proceedings before the industrial ‘The Mainline Song’. Pierce wrote the latter one night while watching the protests happening in America on television. He captures the atmosphere of a bustling US city to a tee. 

‘The A Song (Laid In Your Arms)’ comes as the penultimate track on the album that gives an air of triumph as Pierce opens with the fantastically poetic lyrics: “words that are old as the hills / cooked on a diet of mushrooms and pills / One man’s crime is another man’s thrill and we’re gone”.

In true Spiritualized fashion, the album is rounded off with the main course in ‘I’m Coming Home Again’, a nine-minute epic that echoes ‘Cop Shoot Cop’ from 1997’s Ladies and Gentlemen. “The last track was always the thing that the record hinged around. I wanted it to be almost like a dub, something that just hung in the air. It develops quite slowly, and it seemed to be an almost easy option to sort of make it a really screaming freeform thing, but it’s kind of restrained and held back, and it just kind of hangs,” Pierce said of the closer.

Everything Was Beautiful is, as any Spiritualized fan would expect, yet another kaleidoscopic journey through the psyche of J. Spaceman. As usual, he holds no emotions back and takes us on a cosmic journey through melancholy, anxiety and elation as he shares the next entry in his discographic diary. The remainder of the album lives up to the high standards set out by the previewing singles and leaves much to be excited about ahead of the group’s forthcoming tour dates. Remaining tickets for Spiritualized’s Spring Tour 2022 can be accessed here.