The spaced-out and psychedelic-rock of Spiritualized, is an impressive and progressive sound that challenges listeners to reach for new heights of enlightenment. Just ask any music critic in England. The Spiritualized sound and act, the result of band leader, Jason “Spaceman” Pierce, plays very well across the pond, but here in the states it’s a bit of an acquired taste. There is something very British about Spiritualized, which makes sense seeing as they are from England. But this proper-yet-stoned British awkwardness was never as evident in their music, and has never been as clear as it was on the 2001 album Let It Come Down.
Released in September of 2001, but written, recorded and edited during the previous four years, this epic conceptual album was a personal challenge for Spaceman. He brought in over 100 musicians for various tracks on the album, and you can tell, with some songs flexing full string and horn sections. Spaceman created four walls of sound – a room of sound – appropriately recorded at Abbey Road studios in London. One of the most intriguing facts about Spaceman is that he can’t read or write music. He relied on other musicians to transcribe and notate him humming the various orchestral parts. Listening to the record, you’d never know, as the layered music is balanced, bright, and pleasing to the ear.
Behind this full and rich sound that can be soft and sweet and then overwhelming and powerful, is a personal story. Spaceman is opening his soul, with stories of love and addiction, and then recovering from both. The album opens on a positive note with “On Fire” and keeps that going with the next track, “Do It All Over Again”, which is the theme of the album and sort of the title track, referencing the cyclic nature of sobriety, addiction and recovery with a bastardization of the serenity prayer, Let It Come Down.
The album plays out like a personal plea wrapped in an apology, a confession from a man who has hit rock bottom. Songs entitled “The Twelve Steps”, and “Lord Can You Hear Me”, reinforce that point and theme. But when you listen closer, you realize Spaceman is just pulling your leg. He’s not sorry at all. He’s going keep doing what he does and you are enabling him if you buy his records… which is not a bad thing. Spiritualized lives up to its name, especially on Let It Come Down, an album that is religious, personal, spiritual, and bordering and transcendental.
If you are a fan of that big wall of sound coupled with personal and passionate lyrics, then this album is for you. I give it 3 out of 5 stars and recommend a very good system with excellent headphones for the full sonic pleasure.