For better or worse, Everything Was Beautiful is more of the same from Spiritualized.
In spite of an announcement stating that they were through, Jason Pierce’s Spiritualized returns in 2022 with their ninth studio album, Everything Was Beautiful, bringing back the signature and soaring space-age rock sounds that have been a defining feature across their decades-long project. But while any opportunity to hear new music from the band is welcome, the lingering impression for listeners is likely to be a wish that the group’s further efforts would represent a leap forward in sound.
But let’s step back: As a band, Spiritualized has the particular ability to make the tracks that one would ordinarily find to be nice, albeit rote, sound rather spectacular. There’s the familiar gravity of sonic texture present on Everything Was Beautiful that was on their hit Ladies and Gentlemen…We Are Floating in Space, and indeed, the motifs and imagery deployed across this album are reminiscent of that former record, feeling vaguely nostalgic on a listen according to the clear similarities littered throughout.
Spiritualized has long been famous for using multi-layered instruments, while Pierce himself plays nearly 30 of the suckers on this record, but rather than overwhelm, these layers create a certain sonic drone that weevils into the back of the listener’s mind, once again delivering the driving force behind the particular listenability of the band’s entire catalog. Which more simply put, is to say that there’s an admittedly wild appeal in this established sonic palette, one that has been executed by Spiritualized for nearly 3 decades now. But it’s also in these “strengths” that one finds the double-edged sword: While these sounds are quite pleasing to listen to, it can be said that much of the treaded ground here is not new or much interesting in any sense. Nostalgia invocation often comes at the cost of innovation, something that Spiritualized has always relied on and become known for. Everything Was Beautiful, then, feels like a bit of a disappointment thanks to its reliance on these recycles, failing to push much forward or deliver anything that feels meaningfully new.
But still, if nostalgia can be considered painful or uncomfortable to some, Spiritualized instead decides to revel in it on Everything Was Beautiful. There’s a concrete defiance in this action, choosing the least punk option through which to soak in the past, while still managing to do so with a measure of bravado. Which is to say, for better or(/and) for worse, Spiritualized is the same band they have always been.
Published as part of Album Roundup — April 2022 | Part 3.