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The album divides neatly into two categories – raucous trancey rock songs and strident soulful tunes. With the latter, Pierce evinces to wonderful effect his refined sense of pace and song structure.
Nadine O Regan, 28 Aug 2003
Jason Pierce has an extreme approach to band management. If he thinks something doesn’t work, he ditches it. Immediately. In the past few years, the Spiritualized mainman has fired his band, left his record label Arista and most recently dismissed six members from his 13-strong line-up of touring musicians.
It’s the methodology of the music purist, and although it may sound harsh on paper, on record there’s a lot to be said for it. Amazing Grace is a beautiful album, shot through with moments of greatness. In contrast to previous offerings, Pierce resists the temptation to gild the lily. There are many delicate flourishes – the gospel-style chorus on the gorgeous ‘Lord Let It Rain On Me’, the sweet harmonica on ‘Hold On’ – but each of these eleven songs is characterised by a compelling sense of purpose, an understanding that every element must work to earn its place in the music.
The album divides neatly into two categories – raucous trancey rock songs and strident soulful tunes. With the latter, Pierce evinces to wonderful effect his refined sense of pace and song structure. Whereas most rock musicians are content to adhere to the basic verse-chorus-verse formula, Pierce plays all the angles, using silence as a trick to capture the attention and allowing the music to build and swell until it takes on an operatic quality. The more rough ‘n’ ready garage numbers also impress, bringing a welcome sense of contrast to the record.
Unfortunately, that’s not quite enough at times to disguise the main weakness of this album – namely that some of these songs are unmistakably derivative of rather than inspired by Spiritualized’s previous offerings. Still, when you’re talking about a canon that includes such gems as Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, this is an easily forgivable offence.
Slanted and enchanting.