Spiritualized - Songs In A & E (2LP) (Ltd White Vinyl)
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In the intervening five years since 2003's Amazing Grace, Jason Pierce nearly died from double pneumonia. Near death experiences by their very nature are life-changing events. The music on Songs in A&E were recorded in that aftermath, but most of the album was written two years before he got sick; with so much of it about near death and survival, it feels like life imitating art. From the first notes of "Sweet Talk," it's obvious that a very different Spiritualized is up and about; an acoustic guitar, a sparse drum kit, the voice quartet, a few horns, and a minimal bassline fuel it. Pierce sweetly croons to a loved one in waltz time; his words are simultaneously appeasing and accusatory. The gospel chorus isn't as overblown as it was on Amazing Grace or Let It Come Down. They are in a support role, offering Pierce's reedy voice a fullness and authority it wouldn't have otherwise.