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Songs In A&E Import

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Audio CD, Import, May 27, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Songs in A&E arrives in 2008. It is their much anticipated sixth studio album, two years in the making. Main man J. Spaceman is back after a serious illness which had him in the hospital. Spiritualized are an English rock band formed in 1990 in Rugby, Warwickshire by Jason Pierce (who often goes by the alias J. Spaceman) after the demise of his previous outfit, space-rockers Spacemen 3. The membership of Spiritualized has changed from album to album, with Pierce - who writes, composes and sings all of the band's material - being the only constant member. Spiritualized have released five studio albums. The best known and most critically acclaimed of these was 1997's Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, which NME Magazine made their Album of the Year.

The title Songs to Sing in A&E isn't simply a reference to Jason Pierce's chords of choice on this, the sixth album from Spiritualized. Rather, it's a blackly comic reference to the events that preceded this album's creation--specifically, a bout of pneumonia that saw Pierce fighting for his life from a hospital bed. Spiritualized, however, have always specialised in transforming personal travails into great art, and there's something morbidly compelling about a song like "Death Takes Your Fiddle", a chilly blues song accompanied by the wheeze of an artificial respirator. There may be some unfortunate repercussions from Pierce's illness: his voice sounds somewhat frail in comparison to the brave soul we found on 1997's Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating in Space, and this rather seems to expose occasional shortcomings in his lyrics (to follow a song called "I Gotta Fire" with "Soul on Fire" and then "Sitting on Fire" suggests wells of inspiration may be running low). One thing's for sure, though, Pierce is a fine arranger. Lush strings, choirs and flourishes of percussion flesh out simple acoustic songs into impressive symphonies. Meanwhile, "Yeah Yeah" proves Pierce still has a way with an itchy, strung-out blues stomp. --Louis Pattison

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Harmony 1 (Mellotron)
  2. Sweet Talk
  3. Death Take Your Fiddle
  4. I Gotta Fire
  5. Soul On Fire
  6. Harmony 2 (Piano)
  7. Sitting On Fire
  8. Yeah Yeah
  9. You Lie You Cheat
  10. Harmony 3 (Voice)
  11. Baby I'm Just a Fool
  12. Don't Hold Me Close
  13. Harmony 4 (the Old Man...)
  14. The Waves Crash In
  15. Harmony 5 (Accordion)
  16. Borrowed By Your Gun
  17. Harmony 6 (Glockenspiel)
  18. Goodnight Goodnight

Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 27, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Import
  • Label: Spaceman Records
  • ASIN: B0017R1DZQ
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,940 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 27, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I'm going to guess that the title of "Songs in A&E" refers to Jason Pierce nearly dying of pneumonia during the album's recording.

It's a relatively appropriate title for Spiritualized's latest album, because the lyrics are all about illness -- not of the body, but the distrust and bleakness inside a soul. It's a relatively dark sound for the music -- a satiny mass of ethereal mellotron, brass, guitar and soaring strings, when Pierce isn't driving it into darker areas of rock'n'roll.

"Well, you sweet talk like an angel/With a heart full of lies," J Spaceman (aka Jason Pierce) creaks over a bittersweetly gorgeous pop ballad, backed by a suitably angelic-sounding "ooooooooo"-singing chorale. By the time the trumpets blast in, the song has built itself up to a truly epic climax -- and Pierce is still singing bleakly about how the lover who sweet-talks like an angel.

Bask in the glow for a moment. There are plenty of songs in this vein, like the warmly psychedelic, unabashedly upbeat "Soul Fire," as well as dramatic pop epics, some ghostly little folk ballads wrapped in mellotron and strings. And despite its un-intimate-sounding title, "Don't Hold Me Close" is a weirdly soothing little stretch of somnolent pop, which sounds like it was fed through an old radio.

But not all these songs are feel-good ones. The unnerving folk "Death Take Your Fiddle" is punctuated with the respirator's creak, there are a couple of swirling psychpop numbers, and a Rolling-Stonesian blues-rocker "Yeah Yeah!" And near the end, Pierce drives us into creepsville with "Borrowed Your Gun," a weird little number about a little boy telling Dad he's sorry "I borrowed your gun again/shot up your family...
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Nikhil Murthy on October 26, 2008
Format: Audio CD
I can't believe there are not more people raving about this record. I love it. It shows Jason Pierce at his simplest production wise and it actually reminds of those awesome Sparklehorse records ( another person who is criminally underrated). Put it simply this guy does not get his due at all. Phenomenal mind at work on this record and on his others. i can't wait to see them live in January once they come to Auckland.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Julianne on September 1, 2008
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This is what we have come to expect from Jason Spaceman: awe-inspiring melodies, majestic in their pathos, their simplicity.

As good as any of their records (i have them all), if not better.

Don't listen to anyone who slags off the lyrics--who cares about lyrics in pop songs, anyway? If you want poetry, read Eliot or Shelley or Wallace Stevens, or Dylan, for heaven's sakes.

Plaintive, heartbreaking, ambitious in a sort of safe way, cathartic, lovely--as good as THE BLACK WATCH's masterpiece, released early this past summer.

If you like Radiohead, The Verve (ick!), or Flaming Lips--you will adore the new Spiritualized.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By jason00454 on June 7, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I wanted to spend some time with this album before writing about it... and it's still not going to be easy. At first listen I liked the album, but it seemed a little flat. This happens to me with Spiritualized albums... they take some time to fully sink in, but once they do there's really nothing else like them. So, over the past couple of years Songs In A&E has definitely grown on me. It really feels like a continuation of Amazing Grace, with it's more direct approach of recording, seemingly stripped down arrangements, (I say seemingly here, because after repeated listens you realize that there's actually quite a lot of instruments being used in most of the songs, but at first they seem very lean) and the use of more straight ahead bluesy rock songs mixed in with the slower more orchestrated pieces. For me, it's the stripped down rock songs that take the longest for me to come around to. They do seem a little flat at first, when compared to the more lush slower work. In time I do come around to them though, and find myself enjoying the change of feel and pace. Over the years Amazing Grace and Songs In A&E have become the Spiritualized albums that I listen to most often. I enjoy all of his work, and still go back to all of his albums, but there's something very direct and pure about Amazing Grace and Songs In A&E. Almost vulnerable at times. It's not something you find in music very often these days. I wish more people gave this album a listen here in the U.S. He seems to be very overlooked here in the states. I hope that changes.
Also..I want to add that it's worth getting the vinyl version. It's a very nice 180gram double lp, that comes in a sturdy gatefold sleeve, with all the lyrics and info on the inside of the gatefold, so you don't have to deal with the fold out lyric sheet that comes with the cd.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Rasmussen on August 18, 2008
Format: MP3 Music Verified Purchase
To me, this is the best Spiritualized record since `Ladies and Gentlemen'.

First lyric point: I think this is his most lyrically interesting work. Content wise, JP seems to have wallowed in the self-pity of drug addiction. I found his musical glorification of his wretched state a bit annoying. But maybe as a non-drug user, I just couldn't relate. The lyrics on this record seem to be much more honest. Dwelling on death is probably as much of a rock lyric cliché as the addiction/redemption dichotomy, but I think he explores it with more insight and heart. (As an aside, I've read that most of this record was written prior to his major illness. So I find the fact that he got to this point without the actual brush with death all the more impressive.)

Second lyrical point: JP's penchant for parodying clichés as a basis for lyrics seems to be gone. And I'm glad. Other than `She Kissed Me and It Felt Like a Hit', I found these groan inducing rather than funny or insightful.

Musically: I thought "Let it Come Down" was really overblown and sterile (relative to L&G. It's still sonically a very impressive sound). And I thought "Amazing Grace" was good but a bit too raw and under-produced. But for me, I think this record is the perfect balance of the two sounds. It has great dynamic range in the arrangement and mix/master which is a welcome change these days. The loan acoustic guitar sounds detailed but hushed, and the orchestra sounds massive but with a lot more restraint than LICD.

And I really like the Harmony Interludes and how they help pace out the album.

In summary, I know Jason Pierce hasn't been labouring for the last 10 years trying to make a second great record to please me personally, but I must say, he has succeeded.
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