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Sweet Heart Sweet Light - FAT POSSUM
FILTER Grade: 83%

By Ken Scrudato on April 17, 2012



Beyond the blur of drugs, psychedelia and mind-bending light shows, there was always Jason Pierce, the irredeemable romantic. And as his wondrously, optimistically titled new album Sweet Heart Sweet Light opens with the utterly exuberant, eight-plus minutes of “Hey Jane,” it’s obvious Mr. J. Spaceman (curiously, he appears to have readopted his old nom de guerre) has been floating closer to Earth than to the stars since we last heard from him in 2008.

Yet on “Too Late,” as he recites a bit of questionable advice from his mum (“Don’t get too deep / ’Cause you know you’ll regret / Heartache and pain in love / That’s what you’ll get”), he sounds genuinely conflicted about affairs of the heart. He seems, like most of the rest of us, to be none the wiser for the wear.

Those who have spent endless hours tripping to various corners of the universe with Spiritualized on the stereo might be surprised by how earnest and grounded the great Spaceman sounds here. Name-checking the likes of Brian Wilson, Chuck Berry and jazzman Peter Brötzmann, he conjures simple but moving psych-country ballads “Freedom” and “Mary” and gritty gospel blues to the likes of “I Am What I Am.” Even the familiarly droney “Get What You Deserve” sounds more like The Beatles than it does Neu!. Yet rarely has so much honest soul-baring been delivered with such spirited exhilaration.

His Royal Spaceness was quoted on the process of making Sweet Heart Sweet Light as saying, “When you make a record, it has to be the single most important thing in your world.” And as the album concludes with another eight minutes of epic majesty, titled “So Long You Pretty Thing,” which soars with redemption, freedom, love, loss, sadness and hope, it’s easy to remember why Spiritualized, indeed music itself, matters so much to our lives.

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