The forgotten Spiritualized albums? I seem to recall them arriving with little fanfare or maybe it was just everybody still reeling from Ladies and Gentleman and figuring "Mr. Spaceman isn't going to top that anytime soon so whatever". These are albums, especially after the more recent Songs in A&E and Sweet Heart Sweet Light, that deserve attention and reward revisits. They may tread the familiar, druggy territory of previous Spaceman records, and maybe they don't have quite the heartache of Ladies and Gentleman..., but Songs in A&E was a reckoning in a couple of ways and Let It Come Down and Amazing Grace are the relapse and raging party that leads to the reckoning. It really is easier to see how they fit into the larger story now and so maybe it is easier to enjoy their indulgences.
Let It Come Down came out first in 2001 and is filled with yearning and recovery pains and a lot of drug and treatment references. The first standout is an ode to stasis:
The centerpiece song, "The Straight And The Narrow", sums up the general feeling, or theme - if there is one, of the album. Though, in true Spiritualized fashion we're at full speed singing our hearts out with a choir aimed at the heavens by the end of the album. I think Spaceman knows he's at his best showing the fragility in the rage.
Amazing Grace came out just two years later and it does feel in many way a Pt. 2 to Let It Come Down. The centerpiece song on here, "Lord Let It Rain On Me", even has the line "let it come down" repeated in the chorus.
Spiritualized has never really left my iPod for too long. It is therapy music - it does give you a dose of secular spirituality and is good for healing wounds. This is a band that has packaged its music in pharmaceutical trappings and intake instructions. There is equal parts anger management (in the distortion filled rockers) and wound salve music in these albums and I recommend storing them in an easily accessible place - maybe next to your rescue inhaler.
Let's go out on a high note here. One of Amazing Grace's loud, propulsive songs. Spiritualized is a loud band with ear-ringing live shows. In some ways Spiritualized is like Bonnie 'Prince' Billy or The Flaming Lips (we'll get to them yet), bands with music and live shows that provide me with that needed aforementioned secular spiritualism that gets me through life. Here's a short Maggie's Farm blast that'll shake you loose with drum fills and electricity.