Only headphones can reveal the desired closeness of Spiritualized’s eighth studio album, and first record in six years, And Nothing Hurt.
The singles released first; “A Perfect Miracle” and “I’m Your Man” have a similar feeling of nostalgia and ardency. “A Perfect Miracle” sways like breeze on a pond on a calm day, glistening like the sound of the tambourine. “I’m Your Man” builds a bit at the end, with the inclusion of some horns and backup vocals, only to fall away once more for the line “I’m your man.”
Drippy and sentimental, “Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go” begins with some sampled analogue distortion, as if to transport the listener to another point in time. Pierce sings about how to get to him, warning listeners to “slow down for the lights,” to avoid the “cop up there who sits up all night,” and advising them to “take the hill in second gear.” Colloquial directions, and the comforting sound of his voice over the drone from the Vox Repeat Percussion and Harrison-esque lead guitar makes listeners feel a closeness with Pierce himself.
Jason Pierce’s long career in music (and relationship with the Vox Repeat Percussion) is fully of cyclical thematics and imagery relating to love and joy, each song leaning on its own unrelenting drone. “Let’s Dance” builds this drone into a maximalist composition of horns, guitars, and analogue synth swishy sounds.
By far the highest energy song on the record, “On the Sunshine” is reminiscent of the Stooges, but with a piping organ lead and Pierce’s repeating mantra, “let it go,” “take it easy.”
And Nothing Hurt, is fine-tuned and produced with precision, with layers of sound fitting snugly within one another. From big band songs like “The Morning After,” feature wailing guitars and horns, where songs like “Damaged” are gentler and more muted. “The Morning After” ends with a jam, the drums press forward as guitars howl an indescribably layered and noisy form of freeform jazz. Once this rickety sound machine screeches to a halt, “The Prize” comes in like the slow dance song in an 80’s movie.
These huge sonic juxtapositions, along with Pierce’s refined songwriting song composed an album that somehow remaining earnest among wholesome, simple melodies and riffs. Each song works to strengthen the songs around it, and for better or worse the refinement shows – as always, Jason Pierce’s astounding honesty is what takes the foreground, and the result is a wonderfully rendered tribute to humanity.