Delayed by debilitating illness, this is nevertheless Jason Spaceman’s best since Ladies & Gentleman…

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Spiritualized – Songs In A&E

Partway through the creation of this, his sixth album fronting Spiritualized, Jason Pierce was rushed to intensive care suffering from advanced periorbital cellulitis and bilateral pneumonia. It was as nasty as it sounds: in the summer of 2005, weighing less than seven stone and forced to move hospitals due to the 7/7 bombings, his body was close to shutting down completely.

Opening Songs In A&E with what can only be described as a heavenly chorus, segueing into a song that compares his lover to an “-style garage rock, although violins, woodwind and accordion pervade the latter stages of the album. “Waves Crash In” and “Don’t Hold Me Close” – a stunning duet with Harmony Korine’s wife Rachel – have a woody, homely feel to them, and “Harmony 5”, one of six instrumental interludes that punctuate the album, is a simple folk reel.

You can still play Spiritualized bingo with the references to fire, dope and Jesus, and, while the arrangements are frequently dazzling, the third chord often remains out of reach. But the repetition is comforting rather then annoying. Only Jason Pierce could come up with a song so familiar and yet so transfigurative as billowing album centrepiece “Baby I’m Just A Fool”. Be thankful that he’s still around to do so.

SAM RICHARDS

Pic credit: Neil Thomson