Spiritualized: Everything Was Beautiful (2022)
Since then, I've been less passionate about their music. 2001's Let It Come Down and 2003's boisterous Amazing Grace retained Ladies' room-filling ambience but didn't hook me the same way, and on subsequent records Pierce has pared back the gospel choirs and fuzzed-out guitars, relying on a stripped-down aesthetic that was more emotionally raw but less sonically interesting to me.
So the band's latest effort comes as a really nice surprise. Which makes sense, as Everything Was Beautiful is sort of a delayed sequel to Ladies & Gentlemen, right down to the medication-themed cover art. Opener "Always Together With You" deliberately updates Ladies' opening title track, with its spoken-word introduction, the strange repeating beeps, the vocal round, the gradual build from hushed ballad to monstrous attack... so, yeah, it's a ringer for those who share my passion for that earlier record, but it's undeniably awesome. And the follow-up, "Best Thing You Never Had," similarly looks back to early works, a huge hook providing the gripping magnetism that's been less present in their post-millennium records. "The Mainline Song" is another favorite, tremendously catchy and attention-grabbing. Meanwhile, "The A Song" brings a bit of the ol' post-punk frenetic energy, while album closer "I'm Coming Home Again" is more in the vein of Pierce's earthbound recent work, but still building towards monumental sonic release.
Despite the shout-outs to past glories, the album feels like much more than a rehash, with Pierce, while singing in the rawer, Dylanesque rasp of his recent recordings, making a strong case for the act's continuing vitality.
Here's "Always Together":...and "Mainline":...and "Best Thing" live: