Spiritualized – Let it Come Down – Review


Let it Come Down (Arista)
by Jon Sarre

Mebbe this post-terro world fulla war’n’deaths o’ ironies’n’back-to-simplicity Depression/Rockwellian chic (which reminds me, the economy’s in the toilet too) ain’t the best time to unleash on the world Spiritualized‘s grandiose mother-of-all acts of self-indulgence (for a while, anyhow), but I’m sure they didn’t figure on international events to affect their release schedule, or they wouldn’t’ve spent the better part of two years makin’ the damn thing. On the other hand, the musicians’ union sure got a boost on this (around a hundred members at least, so many that readin’ the credits gives the reader the thrilling feeling of vertigo). Furthermore, at whatever low price CDs still retail at, it’s still decadence on the cheap, so’s while yer scanning the post-dot.com want ads ya can listen to Let It Come Down and pretend yer somewhere else, anywhere else. That’s nice too, cuz this record’s fuckin’ amazing in the way that any record that was so complex to put together’s fuckin’ amazing (whether it’s good or bad, but this is a goodie), cuz managing chaos on a daily basis with x-many parts and Jason Spaceman didn’t lose his marbles like Phil Spector or Brian Wilson eventually did is probably no mean feat. Come on, you try that.

Let It Come Down‘s closer to a big-budget circa 1975 big deal release than Smile or a Wall of Sound event, y’know, where the musicians and forty or so of their close friends hunker down in someone’s castle and emerge months later with tape in hand (and really sick of one-another, but then again Spiritualized’s toured since this came out, so it probably wasn’t quite that way). Like those oldies but what-were-they-thinking?-ers, ya got the genre fucks’n’rips like stoned soul-picker Let It Bleed riffs petering out into faux gospel choruses backed by toy pianer (“On Fire”) and seguing into Quadrophenia French horn and over-percuss-uppercuts o’er miked-to-the-max kettledrumming on the ears of the singer-songwriter-type too stoned to get outta bed schtick (“Do It All Over Again”). On “Don’t Just Do Something,” Spaceman’s outta bed, but now he’s on the couch and the drugs or pretensions are kicking in, so he concedes the fruitlessness of the whole thing ‘cept orchestral arrangements, so mebbe he’s only kidding. Mebbe that explains the gobblygook wordplay made tolerable by big ole resonant chords on “Out of Sight,” ‘specially when they spiral off to drug-addled guitar-worship territory. If he is just joking, it must be like somethin’ that had to do with his old band (Spaceman 3) and how they were comin’ off some Stooges-inspired trip, kinda like Mudhoney, albeit from the opposite direction (and Spaceman and Mark Arm even sorta sound the same) and I didn’t get all their jokes either.

Speaking of trips (or jokes or drugs anyway), “The Twelve Steps” is hard time in the dope trade where they throw in siren samples so realistic I thought they were filming a Cops episode down the block, but that was just to compete with the orchestral breakdown in the middle where it all slows down and the pedal steel is like yer pulse and then… GO… off to “The Straight and Narrow,” which is sorta like The Beatles psych stuff if only they’d lost their Pepper infatuation with their psych obsession. Then ya got “I Didn’t Mean To Hurt You”‘s kitschy Carmina Burana rip-off like it was for a Hollywood score to a damn Oliver Stone movie about some dead rockstar who maybe really didn’t die, but he usedta always see this dead Indian, but turned ghostly inside out into a lullaby with like a hundred people singin’, which would scare the shit outta most babies, but it still out-chutzpas the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” Bach choral move (“Stop Your Crying”). Spiritualized winds the record down with “Anything More,” virtually a sequel to “Stop Your Crying” and then “On Fire”‘s bookend, “Won’t Get To Heaven (The State I’m In),” where Spaceman’s kinda tired so he shuts down Abbey Road studios with the prayer-like, punctuation-free finale, “Lord Can You Hear Me” and then we all stumble off to bed.