Spiritualized's new album, And Nothing Hurt, had its songwriter hurting
“Now I can listen to music again.”
Jason Pierce says he hasn’t heard all that many songs except his own for the better part of six years. That’s the amount of time he says it’s taken him to create And Nothing Hurt, the eighth album by Spiritualized, the rock project he’s fronted for nearly three decades. As he works on his own music, “I have a hard time listening to music by other people I really love,” he says.
Spiritualized’s latest effort was just that — an effort. Pierce, a.k.a. J. Spaceman, says And Nothing Hurt took too long to make. He started it with a producer and ended up making most of it solo. “I went looking for producers. Its so much easier to please other people than it is please myself,” he says, mentioning he’d gone out to John Cale and Tony Visconti before turning toward his own laptop. He says rock and roll is “effortless when you’re young,” but now the former Spacemen 3 rocker struggled to “find a place for it” in his own songwriting. And he didn’t have the funding for the album he wanted. “It doesn’t sound like the thing I was going after,” he says, mentioning he aspired to craft a “Columbia studio record.” A Ray Charles vibe. “Disappointment hangs over this record,” he told EW slowly over the phone.
And yet the nine tracks on this are cohesive and major-key memorable, blissfully even, and replete with the isms that have made ladies and gentlemen feel like they’re floating in space since 1990: whirring keyboards, choice electric guitar riffs, looping choral vamps, orchestral thrums, and a mix of the sincere with the tongue-in-cheek.
One inspiration that occurs to songwriter Pierce over and over again are drives. Long drives, in a car, on the way to nowhere in America on a dark road, “in Texas or the West Coast.” That openness, isolation, and sandy psychedelia is punctuated in sound, as well as in his words. “I’m Your Man” has the English singer offering: “If you want wasted, loaded, permanently folded / Doing the best that he can / I’m your man, I’m your man.” He’s a “lonely rock’n’roller” on sparkling “Let’s Dance”; and “Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go” features the crackle of a radio dial as a user seeks a proper frequency. It is a record “that is very much my age,” the 52-year-old continues.
And it’s very much the full album that Spiritualized will play front to back during the mere eight tour stops slated for this fall. “I’ve always thought his album would be presented as a full album. I’m OK if it fails,” he says, lighting up for a moment.
Spiritualized’s And Nothing Hurt is out now.