Steve Brooks

"Amazing Grace"

9th June 2005
Album Cover reviewer: Steve Brooks
rating: 5 out of 5
published by:
  1. This Little Life Of Mine
  2. She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)
  3. Hold On
  4. Oh Baby
  5. Never Goin' Back
  6. The Power And The Glory
  7. Lord Let It Rain On Me
  8. The Ballad Of Richie Lee
  9. Cheapster
  10. Rated X
  11. Lay It Down Slow

Chaotic, grinding guitars. Squealing feedback. Distorted vocals. Not the kind of thing you'd associate with a band as laid back as Spiritualized. Yet that's exactly how the band's fifth album, 'Amazing Grace', begins. Opener 'This Little Life Of Mine' sounds like it was written and recorded in a garage in five minutes. Which is presumably the intention, but it's a dense and skewed beginning.

The single 'She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)' follows, which continues in the same vein, but remembers to include a tune. 'Hold On' has a pretty yet distinctly lo-fi feel to it, but 'Never Goin' Back' is a pointless spluttering mess of a song. After 'The Power And The Glory' spirals out of control into jazz cacophony, you may just be left wondering what can possibly done to save this record. What happens next is nothing short of a miracle.

It's difficult to think of a better second half to any record. 'Lord Let It Rain On Me' has a gorgeous gospel inflected refrain; think The Polyphonic Spree without the pretension. 'The Ballad Of Richie Lee' is downbeat and heartfelt , and 'Cheapster' is a thrashy, trashy pop song which accompanies the beautiful 'Rated X' perfectly.

They leave the best till last. 'Lay It Down Slow' is a simple tune at heart, but it builds to the most wonderful climax, chiming guitars and harmonic vocals creating a fabulous end to the album. Indeed, it's difficult to imagine how a band capable of music like this could produce something as anonymous as the opener.

So it's a record of two halves, but after a shaky start, the good does (eventually) outweigh the bad.

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