Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Sweet Heart Sweet Light—the first release from Spiritualized in four years—could be seen as a labor of love. It could also be looked at as a labor of life. Through one stretch of the mixing, band leader Jason Pierce (perhaps better known as J. Spaceman) discovered he had long-term liver disease, which—with the addition of being on an experimental drug treatment—made work, let alone life, difficult. The former Spacemen 3 space cadet made it through and Sweet Heart Sweet Light finally saw the light of day, and the result is another strong batch of heartland psych rock. It’s arguably one of the poppiest records Pierce has done as Spiritualized. That said, the familiar themes are still here—death, drugs, religion—given even more heft through soaring choruses. There are a lot of different emotions swirling through the record, almost as if you’re experiencing a chemical trip firsthand. On a sunny day. In church. “Get What You Deserve” is brittle and hazy while “I Am What I Am” is a handclapping gospel song. Pierce has been playing this sonic tug of war for nearly three decades. What’s amazing is that it has only found its way to the ears of very few earthlings.