The first thing one thinks of when it comes to Spiritualized is drugs. Part of this has to do with central member Jason Pierce's transparent drug references, and part of it has to do with album titles like 2001's Let It Come Down and, from Pierce's previous group, Spaceman 3, 1990's Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To.
But a far more persistent theme in Spiritualized's sound is an underlying holiness. Even at the height of his psychedelic space-rock era, Pierce always sounded like he was crying out to the Lord. On Amazing Grace, the holy element is right there in the title. Recorded in a scant three weeks, live and totally raw, there is an edge to Amazing Grace that is miles away from the swirly symphonics and reverb-heavy drones Spiritualized is known for. More rock than space, this gospellike body of work divides its songs into those that are dense and multitextured and those that are more minimalist.
The album begins with the complexly layered "This Little Life of Mine," a perfect example of noise-as-melody, before Pierce slows it right down on "Hold On," with just an acoustic guitar and his vocal. Continuing with the hymnlike "Oh Baby," replete with epic rhythms and church organs, divine inspiration turns up again on "Lord Let It Rain on Me," this time exemplified by a choir, as well as on "The Power and the Glory," where it is accentuated with sublime horns.
On more personal numbers like the delicate "Rated X," Pierce hides his voice behind distortion, solidifying what has been at the back of our mind all along: The man is very lonely. More so than on previous efforts, though, with Amazing Grace, instead of drugs, Pierce has given us, and perhaps himself, a higher power to turn to.
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