Jason Pierce had a rough 2005. Hospitalized and nearly dying, the British musician spent a lot of time tethered to machines and IVs (which decorate his latest release, Songs in A&E). Even though Pierce wrote the songs before his illness, the album follows a similarly depressing theme. Whether it's love, God, death or drugs, Spiritualized's songs — grandiose, choral and spacey — take an even more religious tone than his past work. "Death Take Your Fiddle," "Goodnight, Goodnight" and "The Waves Crash In" all seem to be sung from the perspective of one facing the end; the album contains mostly somber, acoustic-based works that build to the band's typical bombastic peaks. Had Pierce actually penned Songs in A&E on his deathbed, one suspects it wouldn't make much difference at all. Whether Spiritualized's live show forgoes the over-the-top light fantasias of the past is anyone's guess, but expect a lot of laser-guided melodies and songs made by people taking drugs to make music to take drugs to. They don't call him Spaceman for nothing. Excellent San Diego trio Grand Ole Party opens.
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