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