Album: Spiritualized, Songs in A&E (Sanctuary)

Subterranean hospital blues
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The Independent Culture

Every new Spiritualized record is an answer to, and a slight development upon, the last. On this one, Jason Pierce, or J Spaceman as he calls himself nowadays (in recognition of his previous band, Spacemen 3), utilises an extended hospitalisation metaphor: "Death Take Your Fiddle" features the gentle wheezing of an oxygen tent; the booklet is filled with photos of spigots and hypos and drip-tubes, and references to morphine and codeine dot the lyric sheet.

It's a concept album with an overall theme of sickness and defeat, which matches the heroin drone of the mellifluous mellotrons on most of the tracks, if not the Stonesy raunch of "I Gotta Fire" and "Yeah Yeah". Pierce's voice has roughened up into that of a wizened white bluesman – an incongruous sound coming from a man still looks like the mum from 'Abigail's Party' – but his songs retain their hymnal quality. There's little here that couldn't have been recorded pre-1971: "Baby I'm Just a Fool" sounds like Dylan just after he went electric. Perhaps the oddest moment is "Borrowed Your Gun", a strangely serene update of "Bohemian Rhapsody" in which the protagonist confesses to shooting his entire family.

Pick of the Album: Galileo, Galileo: 'Borrowed Your Gun'