Sweet Heart Sweet Light is the latest offering and sacrament from Spirtualized. Throughout his career guitarist Jason Pierce (aka J. spacemen) has provided us with multicolored galaxy uppers, downers, screamers, and laughers. This album is definitely a downer. Like a potent mixture of Darvon and Valium this is the sort of rock & roll that would have killed Lester Bangs.
While Pierce’s work has always been extremely cynical and sarcastic. This is album is slightly different. It comes across as cynical but painfully sincere, which is actually a lot more disturbing. The recurring themes of regret, hopelessness, impending death, and a god that just doesn’t care run rampant throughout this record.
There are two types of songs on this album: slow and depressing soul ballads or drawn- out, droning, psychedelic, space-rock masterpieces. To create the full effect he was looking for, Pierce employed an Icelandic string quartet, a choir of over 40 people, and a vocal cameo from his 11 year old daughter, Poppy Spaceman.
While making Sweet Heart Sweet Light Pierce was undergoing an experimental treatment for severe liver disease. He was taking a heavy dose of pharmaceuticals that both hurt him physically and left him feeling mentally vacant. Originally he wanted to call the album Huh? because it described his mental state at the time: “I didn’t really know what I was doing, and I was trying to make a record while under these lousy drugs I had to take everyday, and that’s kind of what they did to my brain: Huh?”
The definitive single “Hey Jane” gives us the album’s titular line, “Sweet Heart Sweet Light” which is repeated like a mantra for the last couple minutes of the track. “Hey Jane” was adapted into a music video. With it’s incredible storytelling and shocking violence this film threatens to elevate the medium of Music Video to a new level.
The next track “Little Girl” is a painfully slow song with piano and strings. The opening line “Sometimes I wish I was dead, because only the living can feel pain.” is a poignant and extremely unpleasant fact about life. This album is full of unpleasant truths which is what makes it is such a downer. For instance the song “Too Late” is about a man who leaves the woman he once loved. Though he still has feeling for this woman he knows there is no reason to look back because things wont ever be the the same.
“I Am What I Am” is written from the perspective of a transcendent God who is uncaring and narcissistic. This tracks is noteworthy for its Funhouse saxophone solos and multiple full-scale psychedelic freak-outs and breakdowns. It was Co-written by Dr. John who had previously collaborated with Pierce on the album Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space.
Pierce’s work has always included a number of lyrical and stylistic references to Lou Reed and the The Velvet Underground. Not Surprisingly Sweet Heart Sweet Light is no exception. My favorite track is “Headin’ for the Top Now” which is comprised of layer upon layer of wailing feedback, screeching guitar, and a simple two-chord progression banged out incessantly for the duration of the 8-minute composition in a manner very reminiscent of “I’m Waiting for My Man” or “Heroin”.
Little Girl –
Headin’ For the Top Now –
Genre/ Tags: Drug Pop, Space Rock
Sweet Heart Sweet Light LP: Tracklist:
1.) Huh? (Intro)
2.) Hey Jane
3.) Little Girl
4.) Get What You Deserve
5.) Too Late
6.) Headin’ For The Top Now
10.) So Long You Pretty Thing
Buy the Album from Fat Possum Records
Check the official Spiritualized website
Past Related Posts:
Ladies and Gentle We Are Floating in Space LP (Plain Recordings)