2008’s Songs In A&E, the last album by Spiritualized, touched on frontman Jason Pierce’s near- death experience of 2005 when he contracted double pneumonia. Having recovered from that, he’s since been laid low by liver disease and was housebound for much of the recording of this album.
In a sense, though, whether Jason’s in rude health or otherwise, Spiritualized albums tend always to revisit the same scorched earth: the greatest, epic and Ur-traditions of rock and pop, from the Velvets to Phil Spector, recast and reflated in the failing light of late, modern times.
Sweet Heart Sweet Light oscillates between infernal but controlled and sustained bursts of fuzzy, white noise guitar – as on Hey Jane and the mounting Get What You Want – and also more contemplative, orchestral pieces like Too Late.
The latter’s a little too pretty and elegiac for my tastes, compared with past efforts like All Of My Thoughts from Spiritualised’s grand opus Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, but this is more than redeemed by the cumulative swell of the album overall, with the tempestuous, climactic I Am What I Am (co-written by Dr John) and its heavenly, female choral host taking us to that point on the past and future horizon that Spiritualized always return to, undiminished as ever, once more.