Album: Spiritualized

Amazing Grace, Sanctuary

According to Jason Pierce, the point behind Amazing Grace was to "create the energy that you only usually get on live shows". And there's no denying the album does indeed capture something of the Spiritualized live experience - although since the group were responsible for one of the most tedious concerts I've ever attended, this is hardly a recommendation. It's certainly more direct and rock-oriented than its two most recent predecessors, opening on the point of feedback break-up with "This Little Light of Mine" - which like the album title appropriates gospel terminology to its own, less spiritual ends - and continuing with the thrash of "She Kissed Me (It Felt like a Hit)". But then things slide with the ballad "Hold On", Pierce advising us to "Hold on to those you hold dear/ 'Cos death cannot part us if life already has" - though his tenderness seems too artificial to be effective. "Oh Baby" is a typical Spiritualized smack-head grind, and "Cheapster" a knock-off of a Dylan monotone thrash, minus the wit. Some variety is injected with "The Power and the Glory" - a few spare Morton Feldman-esque piano chords sacrificed to a horn crescendo - and "Rated X", whose title belies a self-conscious bout of improvisation, complete with string-scraping and noodlings from Brit-jazz hornmen Evan Parker and Kenny Wheeler. A more varied selection than usual, then, but ultimately no more satisfying.