New Spiritualized Album A Tripped-Out '90s Reality Fix

Love -- ever elusive. Heroin -- ever healing, ever hurting. If you've ever

been in love, Spiritualized has a fix for you.

The band's latest album, Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space administers a heavy dose of insight into love and drugs, bringing together the pain, heartache, exaltation and release. In fact, the disc comes packaged as if it was a prescript

ion straight from the pharmacy, complete with liner notes that contain full "Patient Product Information."

"Used to treat the heart and the soul," the active ingredients of "Spiritualized Tablets" are: Spaceman (Jason Pierce on vocals/guitars/keyboards), Kate Radley (keyboards/vocals), Sean Cook (bass/harmonica) and Damon Reece (percussion). Pierce (whose musi

cal endeavors previous to Spiritualized include working in '80s drone band Spacemen 3) is the mastermind behind the Spiritualized sound. Ladies and Gentlemen offers a 12-track voyage into obsession and addiction, reaching frantic highs with "Come T

ogether" and the absolute low of "Broken Heart."

Alternating between ambient quietudes fringed with strings and guitar-din harmonica romps, Spiritualized brings the musical element to the forefront. Pierce's dreamy vocals profess love in "Cool Waves," whisper-singing against the lull of a backup choir,

"Lay your sweet hands on me, Ôcause I love you, I love you," or gravely sneering, "First he jumped and then he looked, the tracks of time, those tracks of mine, little Jay is sad and fucked" in "Come Together,"

a song about Pierce's rampaging dive into heroin use and abuse.

In the original version of the title track and album opener, "Ladies and

Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space," Pierce used a choir singing lyrics

from Elvis' hit "Can't Help Falling In Love" to back his melody. In the

released version of the album all the lyrics save the phrase "only

fools rush in" had to be removed because permission from the songwriter

to use the lyrics was denied. This unfortunate turn of events delayed

the release of the album two weeks and left the modified version without

the lyrical irony and focus of the original song. It was obvious that the

song was built around the lyrics and the second version was a hasty remix to

edit them out. Nevertheless, the song remains a lovely musical lullaby;

a gentle piano line follows the vocals bringing in the orchestral

guitars and keyboards.

Track five, "Stay With Me," begins with a quietly repetitive but melodic

bass line that undulates throughout the song accented by spaced out

flanged guitar slides. Pierce's voice slips into the mix without causing

a ripple, "Oh babe, I love the way you smile. Stay with me, hold me all

the time -- don't go." The vocals aren't passionate; they exchange

passion for persistence. It's almost as if Pierce is methodically trying

to draw in his lover with a desire that isn't love but an obsessed

fixation.

"The Individual" returns Pierce to a fixation of a different nature, "I

don't even feel it, but Lord how I need it, when I'm not with her, I'm

not all myself." Wait a minute, what exactly is he talking about?

"Sometimes have my breakfast right off of the mirror, and sometimes I

have it right out of the bottle." But why Jason, why? "I'm gonna rip it

up tear it out, gotta get it off of my soul." So does it help? "I don't

even miss you, but that's cause I'm fucked up. I'm sure when it wears

off, then I will be hurting... and just 'cause I feel bad, I feel good,

it's a fine line." Oh, okay then, thanks for sharing.

The vocals of "The Individual" take on an almost Beckian tone, not lyrically but in the way that Pierce deadpan drawl-raps the words out. Unlike the majority of the other songs on the album, the words are the most prominent element in the mix and while th

at makes for a downer of sorts, it pales in comparison to the sweet debilitating sadness of "Broken Heart."

The most symphonic of the songs, "Broken Heart" hinges on strings and

horns that paint a somber soundscape of blues and purples. Pierce's voice

sounds remarkably loungy for such a heart rendering piece, and he croons,

"Though I have a broken heart, I'm too busy to be heart-broken. There's a

lot of things that need to be done, but I have a broken heart." It would

seem from the lyrics that the symptoms of having a broken heart parallel

those of being strung out on heroin: apathy, immobility, lack of

motivation.

Heroin seems to be the drug of the '90s. From Trainspotting to

modeling, heroin is making its effects felt on subjects that range from

beauty to friendship. Tapping into the times, Spiritualized take us on a

trip that covers and coheres the relationship between heroin and love.

While there's no doubt that Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In

Space rocks the house, for those that lack the life experience to

be as hurt and jaded as Pierce, it's really quite an educational

experience. Against the happy horns and harmonica combo of "I Think That

I'm In Love," Pierce jangles, "I think that I'm in love, probably just

hungry. I think that I'm your friend, probably just lonely. I think that

I'm a fool for you, probably just learning."

And so are we.