Amazing Grace


Sanctuary Records, 2003

REVIEW BY: Adam Mico


In late 2001, I was swarmed and then engulfed by an overwhelming buzz that circulated from the underground and critical circles. The 'buzz' reflected the hypnotized masses following a listen to Spiritualized's Let It Come Down. Naively walking in from the cold mainstream outdoors, I wondered what was going on. Fire gnats approached from all angles and whispered, "Spiritualized." After a few weeks of overwhelming praise (even by the most skeptical sources), I approached the altar. From the first moment I plugged in Let It Come Down, I was directly mesmerized.

Two years later, the demigods (actually just demigod, Jason Pierce and random pieces/his visions) decided that the public was worthy enough to receive another blessing for its collection. Their submitted blessing is referred to as my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Amazing Grace. For months, I have been pawing for its release. Impatiently willing 09/09/03 to come in order to quench a need (too necessary to be considered a desire), Let It Come Down returned in its place, which is disc five in my five-disc CD carousel.

Racing to the store, I knocked over scattered music stands, elderly women and children; my hands cuffed Amazing Grace. It was all a blur until I reached home. The initial track is a reworded and mindnumbing feedback arrangement of the public domain treasure, "This Little Light of Mine." Although shockingly grainy, it was done with the bold enthusiasm of a fresh track.

The next cut went further in that direction and the initial sign of the haunting intimacy that sparked Let It Come Down finally appeared in "Hold On." It roared in on a track of sonic sludgery that eventually gave way to Pierce's signature brand of moonlit melancholy. Other tracks worthy of superlatives include the Pink Floyd and Kid A (Radiohead)-inspired instrumental "The Power and the Glory," cynical yet rapture-inducing "Lord Let It Rain On Me," and the burdensome closer "Lay It Down Slow."

Honestly, the introductory spin nearly reduced me to tears. Amazing Grace sounded flat, stripped and listless. Save for "Never Coming Back," none of the four Spiritualized's professed Detroit garage-influenced tracks reflected that genre. Pierce's bamboozle was to mask his theft of early Jesus and Mary Chain. Without the support of a 100-piece orchestra (as on the previous album), Jason's druggy ballads do not promote an immediate euphoric trip.

It took three or four listens to overcome what felt like an ignorant casting away of the former record's orchestrated textures, bold rock leanings and indie-fashioned production. Faith and patience begat formerly unrealized treasures as a mirrored face of Spiritualized emerged.

Amazing Grace's deception captivates. Instead of looking down, it procures us from below. The "band's" reality is finally captured as Jason Pierce's pleading, guilty and focused lyrics glimmer through a more suitable and meaningful template. Cast out the angelic pose, appeal to your devious instincts and secure ... Grace.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2003 Adam Mico and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Sanctuary Records, and is used for informational purposes only.