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Songs in A&E
I don't know what I like best about this band. Maybe the fact that the singer isn't quite spot-on. Maybe it's the majestic string ballads. Maybe it's the rockin psychedelic tunes with tons of tremelo and distortion. It could be the horns. Or the chorus of church choirs. Regardless, Spiritualized has earned it's place as one of my favorite bands, due to this album and 1997's Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space.
I am toying with the idea of a track-by-track review, and since it's been a while since I liked an album THIS much, I think I will:
1. Harmony 1 - Intro Interlude. Strings. That's pretty much it.
2. Sweet Talk - Fucking glorious. Choral "oohs" and the occasional gong back up the stand-up bass and beautiful lyrics. "You sweet talk like angels tonight." As the drums and horns build this song to a crashing finale, I find it hard to find a comparison to such a fucking beautiful song. And this isn't even close to my favorite track.
3. Death Take Your Fiddle - A lone guitar plays over....ocean waves? Exhaling? This one is subtle, with saxophone and minimal drums barely audible in the back of those waves.
4. I Gotta Fire - Fuck yes. Brian Jonestown Massacre. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Distortion. Rockin drums. Weird delays and phase shifting. Acoustic guitar dropouts followed by driving rim-clicks. This one pwns.
5. Soul On Fire - When I found out that my favorite track on the album was co-written by Daniel Johnston, I liked it that much better. Opening with "You were born on a black day shot through with starlight, and all the angels singing just about got it right." This song alternates between beautiful verses sprinkled with acoustic guitar and majestic orchestral arrangements complete with layered vocals, strings, and a dominant electric guitar. This is by far my favorite track. The melody rules.
6. Harmony 2 - Interluuuuude. Piano this time.
7. Sitting on Fire - I know, this is the third song in a row with "Fire" in the title. This one starts off pretty slow, just an acoustic guitar. Just when you think it's over, a killer string interlude kicks you in the face. Softly. You get kicked softly. And you're happy because you were kicked into a huge pile of pillows.
8. Yeah Yeah - Yes, they faded IN to this one. Yes, everything repeats for 2 minutes. Yes, the chorus is "Yeah yeah, get it on." Yes, theres tons of distortion and crazy phasing again. I don't even care. Song rocks.
9. You Lie You Cheat - Vocals are barely discernible under all of the distortion. This wall of sound works well. I barely know what is going on, though you can hear some "oohs" and some drums. I assume there's some guitar under that fuzz.
10. Harmony 3 - Just "oohs" this time
11. Baby I'm Just A Fool - Is that a marimba? Hand claps? "Do do do do?" This one is pretty happy. It reminds me of being on a tropical island, but not on the beach. It's like you're in a glorious hotel that overlooks the beach, but you just had amazing sex and now you're drinking champagne on your balcony in a robe with the ocean breeze in your hair. Something like that.
12. Don't Hold Me Close - Pretty low-key. This is another ballad. Solo violin and maybe a clarinet make up some of the instrumentation. Reverb rocks in this song. It's like he's singing alone in a gigantic auditorium with no audience.
13. Harmony 4 - This is just nonsense on a violin. I'm pretty sure this wasn't planned.
14. The Waves Crash In - Awesome percussion. Bells and triangle and drawn-out crashes. Majestic. Violin and clarinet are back. More instruments get added as this moves onward. The build in this on reminds me of "Sweet Talk." Fucking glorious.
15. Harmony 5 - Wind chimes! Accordion!
16. Borrowed Your Gun - Kind of creepy. "Daddy I'm sorry I borrowed your gun again. Shot up your family. A shock for the city." Despite the lyrics, the trumpet makes this eerily majestic. I feel like this song is a sort of sad confession reflecting the inner pain of troubled youth...or maybe it is J. Spaceman's own experiences with his father. "Hold out your hands, I'm all alone. My mind is made up, I'm down on my luck. I've run out of bullets again."
17. Harmony 6 - This is barely audible. Random noises.
18. Goodnight Goodnight - Finale! Acoustic guitar. This one is really lyrically powerful. Of course, violin and cello accompany at some point. This reminds me of one of those "go to sleep" ballads you play for a baby when you rock them to bed in a cradle. It ends the album on a happy, subtle note.
The album is fucking grand. Go listen to it. Then listen to it again, because you won't know what just hit you. Since it's summer and there's no class, listen to it a third time. Then maybe grab some food, smoke a bowl, and listen to it a fourth time. I challenge another band to release a better album in 2008. Try me.
Spiritualized - Songs in A&E (2008) 5/19/2008
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