And Nothing Hurt is, unquestionably, a Spiritualized album. That alone will determine how much enjoyment you get from it. Jason Pierce has this sound down to a tee, and it’s more than pleasant enough to drift in and out of. There’s no doubting the quality of his songwriting, the construct of the arrangements, and the heartfelt poetry. The problem is that it doesn’t feel remotely distinct or special in any way. This is the first Spiritualized album in six years, so I’m left wondering why it feels like the product of artistic saturation. It’s certainly cohesive, and there are some gorgeous moments, but it ultimately winds up being forgettable. I come for its amiable nature, its sweet tenderness, and its wistful outlooks. Regrettably, it still isn’t quite enough to make me stay.
The record opens and ends strongly. “A Perfect Miracle” shares the same swing and tempo as the title track from Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, though it’s still not nearly as magical. It is, however, followed by perhaps the strongest song on the entire album. With its soulful vocals, rousing chorus, and vast arrangement, “I’m Your Man” represents everything that has always been so wonderful about the music of Spiritualized. “The Prize” is similarly persuasive, starting slowly, rising patiently, and eventually soaring. When Pierce is at his very best, he produces music that makes you feel lucky to be alive. It’s a wonderful feeling that happens only rarely on And Nothing Hurt. The songs are effective in isolation, but the overall package feels vague and ultimately underwhelming. As someone who holds Spiritualized dear to their heart, I can only hope this isn’t the last hurrah. There’s one last masterpiece in there, somewhere…6 10
Favourite tracks // I’m Your Man
Here it Comes (The Road) Let’s Go
Spiritualized was one of the first artists we ever reviewed here, and in the years since nothing has quite compared to their sound. The spacious-yet-intricate intimacy of Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space still holds up as a ‘90s high water mark. Today, over 20 years later, Jason Pierce is still sending transmissions from the stars. Are they as urgent as those he’s sent before? As essential? No. Will they please fans? I expect so. The line between rut and groove can blur on projects like this. More of the same can be both a blessing and a curse.
This is a common difficulty with artist like Spiritualized. That they can carve out a sound all of their own — here eclectic, melancholy, somehow grandiose and vulnerable at the same time — is remarkable, but it also becomes a kind of prison. Pierce recently commented that, ‘It seems like every time I make a record I forget everything I ever learned and just do the same thing again, which is just frustrating.’ Frankly, on And Nothing Hurt that sounds like exactly what’s happened, and it is frustrating. The record has no shortage of artfully arranged space tunes, but they rarely feel like important transmissions. Almost every track feels like a closer. The record drips with that Spiritualized come-down buzz — it’s just not falling from anywhere particularly high.
A fair amount of responsibility for this falls on the production, which doesn’t do Pierce’s arrangements justice, but there are too few highlights for the songwriting to get off scot-free. “The Morning After” is the liveliest track by far, tumbling from verse to verse with infectious inhibition, while “Here it Comes (The Road) Let’s Go” is more summer drive than planet orbit, its guitar motifs being particularly lovely. Such peaks are rare, though. For the most part it seems like the man floating in space crash landed and has been wandering in circles ever since. As was similarly the case with The Deconstruction by Eels, And Nothing Hurt ultimately reminds me of other music by the artist that I’d rather be listening to.6 10
Favourite tracks // Here it Comes (The Road) Let’s Go
The Morning After
There are all the hallmarks of a Spiritualized album in And Nothing Hurt. Jason Pierce’s comforting vocals are accompanied by a plethora of other-worldly leads and pads, alongside horns and strings, which contribute to warm lush instrumentals. You’ll find tracks that break down into satisfying jams and dreamy moments of piano which fall between each beat. But as much as I’ve tried to love And Nothing Hurt, I can’t help but feel like I’ve been here before.
From the get-go, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re listening to Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space in Space, lilting rhythm and shimmering bleeps and all. “A Perfect Miracle” is by no means terrible either, on the contrary, it’s ended up as a favourite in this tracklist, but it sets an example that other tracks across the album tend to follow. The result is a dearth of tracks that grab me, and many of them often slide right past without much notice. What’s worse for me is that And Nothing Hurt feels longer than it’s true play time which, at forty-eight minutes, shouldn’t feel like any kind of slog. That’s not to say you can’t have a good time with the album, however, and punchier tracks like “On the Sunshine” are among those that make for the highlights of the album with some great guitar work and a signature cacophony of horns and band by the final minute. “The Morning After” is a similar case, although, at eight minutes, you’ll need to buckle in to enjoy the affair.
There’s clearly a lot Jason Piece still has to offer, and I’ll always be looking out for more content from Spiritualized. However, while And Nothing Hurt is an album I’ve enjoyed my time with, it’s likely I’ll forget it far quicker than their previous material which is a real shame.6 10
Favourite tracks // A Perfect Miracle
On the Sunshine
The Morning After