Monday, October 5, 2015

Spiritualized - Let It Come Down Track-by-Track Review

When I’m bored I write track-by-track reviews with no context. This time it's Spiritualized's 2000 Gospel Neo-Psychedelica journey Let It Come Down. Each track is rated .5-5, then tallied and divided by the number of tracks, giving a percentage and a letter grade. That letter isn't entirely indicative of my thoughts on the album as it only takes into account tracks and not the album as a whole.

1. On Fire

My least favorite Spiritualized has always been the straight forward Rock N’ Roll. Thankfully there is some Gospel thrown in here, but for me it’s an immediate turnoff hearing this come on first. As a follow-up to Ladies & Gentlemen I’d be sorely disappointed. The song does pick up its pace as it continues along, which is good, but I can’t shake the thought that this is just ‘Electricity’ and ‘Come Together’ mashed together. 3

2. Do It All Over Again

The song is pretty much made every time Jason Pierce sings “you better come right down, do it all over again.” It’s joyous, impactful, and more than everything else, simple. The chanting behind him and the escalating portions that follow his rhythmic pattern is excellent. The song isn’t really profound or memorable in Spiritualized’s catalog, but it’s catchy as hell and sometimes that’s all you need. 3.5

3. Don’t Just Do Something

Pierce’s classic pessimistic view gets questioned when reaching for someone special. An excellent song with a message that says it’s okay to be normal and sit around all day, just like it’s fine to reach for the sun and excel. The lyrics are tongue-in-cheek, as he constantly flips the lines. “I’m going nowhere, nowhere’s where I want to be. I’m good for nothing, nothing is good enough for me.” Through this airy melody the track sounds beyond contradictory, as Pierce’s lyrics sung with the harmonies of a thousand angels makes no logic sense, and that’s why it’s great. 4

4. Out Of Sight

What makes Spiritualized good is their ability to make something dull interesting over time. Whereas many artists remain stagnant throughout a song, hardly evolving, Spiritualized’s finales almost always differ strongly from the opening. Pierce’s lyrics thus far have shown a quality that is added to by charming melodies, but here things just don’t sound good and it derails the song. Not to mention he continues the lyrical flipping he did on the previous track, a gimmick that’s fair for a song, abuse for more. Thankfully the production is soaring and riveting, escalating to great lengths by the end, offering some reward for sticking through. 2

5. The Twelve Steps

Again with the ‘Electricity’ mimicking. Spiritualized has always been most evocative when meshing genres, but here they restrain themselves to strictly Rock. I suppose for a lengthy album it’s fine to drop the guard for a time, but its unoriginality (besides the cool cop chase scene midway through) is too large to ignore. Also, it may have been 2000, but even then there’s no way that that “step 1, step 2…” collage at the end wasn’t heard before. It’s beyond corny, made even worse with the plainly spoken lyrics, “start, start it all over again!” It just doesn’t sound good. 2.5

6. The Straight & The Narrow

This is more like it. I’ve never seen a singer go from remarkably visceral to cheesy in minutes quite like Pierce. Whereas the previous two tracks don’t appeal structurally, ‘Straight & The Narrow,’ in that regard, is a masterpiece. His voice glides over the production, made even greater with his crackling and pitch shifting. Between the choruses is a bit of a lull, but the lyrics offer enough insight to keep one interested. Each time they revisit that chorus though they add more flighting instrumentation, to the point where it comes off like a Disney musical. For that reason alone I love it. 3.5

7. I Didn’t Mean To Hurt You

Although I heard it time and again thus far this track really confirmed Let It Come Down’s attempt to structurally mimic its predecessor. Sonically deep, sounding like a Western, the track bears resemblance to ‘Broken Heart’ and the minimal use of Post-Rock on Ladies & Gentlemen, the lyrics compare even greater. The slow pace the song carries is refreshing as each instrument, apart from a few skittering pieces, follows a slowing heartbeat in unison. Otherwise the track isn’t that memorably, just incredibly well produced. 3

8. Stop Your Crying

And here is your ‘Cool Waves.’ I don’t appreciate such similar sounding songs, but I can’t hate Gospel singing, I just can’t. Yes, Pierce interjects downtrodden love lust verses with chanting Gospel choruses, exactly like ‘Cool Waves’ and the two will forever be inseparable. Thing is, Spiritualized could make ten of these and I’d still enjoy it. The parlaying between verse and chorus, with smaller sections of piano medleys and large, church-filling sounds is heartwarming. While it’s not as baptismal, ‘Stop Your Crying’ is much more intimate, as Pierce devotes his love to a struggling women, failing to invest such love within his self. 4

9. Anything More

Unfortunately this track is sandwiched between two giant Gospel tracks, leaving it as forgettable even though sonically it’s sound. Pierce’s love knows no bounds as this tracks has love oozing out of its seams, the amount of orchestration is almost nauseating. The lack of stopping between verses, with each one being launched with a drum roll, gives off a never-ending feeling that consumes the whole as one just expects it to end or break. It’s still a good track, the lyrics are some of his most endearing, but this is yet another example of unlucky positioning. 2.5

10. Won’t Get To Heaven

Damn. Besides the ticking clock and slow build-up to start things off, nothing here couldn’t be done within 5 minutes so don’t chastise me for continuing my adoration of long tracks on typically structured albums. Yes, even with the song’s title this is Pierce’s ascension to heaven. It’s absolutely gorgeous, with each moment being more memorable than the last. His lead-in to the first chorus, “I believe I’m damaged, I believe I’m wrong. I believeeeeeee my time ain’t long” is just excellent. The wild middling portion is just that, wild. Guitars flailing out of control, tuning all outta whack. And then…”I’m hoping, I’m praying, lord, I’m saying, I believe my time ain’t long” comes in and everything else ceases to exist. It’s a breathtaking finale that’s cathartic in all the best ways. 4.5

11. Lord Can You Hear Me

It’s a bit redundant, but more personal. Technically this track didn’t need to exist, but its existence implies Lord is ignoring him, giving the album a stale, downtrodden taste. In the chorus, with more Gospel chanting behind Pierce, he sings “lord can you hear me, when I call,” that call being the previous track and his silence is forever looming over the piece. Halfway through though when a magnificently destructed guitar and drum barrage join the orchestral backgrounds things become revolutionary, ending on a small whimper when everything gives out. It’s a worthy ending, just provides nothing new. 3.5

36-55 // 65% // B

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