Spiritualized - Sweet Heart, Sweet Light (Fat Possum) 

Blissful new offering provides glam-rock histrionics and fake drinking songs

Jason Pierce's blissful new offering provides two major talking points: First, "pop" is the official term for the sheen of these typically melodic, repetitive rampages and dirges. Second, Pierce found himself at death's door again (degenerative liver disease, following a bout with severe pneumonia in 2005) while applying that sheen, which lends the disorganized, sometimes brilliant record a touch of the downright delirious; it seems to approach through a haze.

Yet in the end, its glam-rock histrionics and fake drinking songs are only superficially distinct from decades of Pierce's fuzzy brooding. The bedridden dread is confronted with irony-free deadpan — "Jesus, please be my automobile," he begs — as he mines all the noise for a haven. Even if it doesn't work for all fans (and it won't), it's hard to imagine a dour mood remaining after a piece of mastery as cathartic and maybe-not- "new"-but-who-cares as "Hey, Jane," sheer glorious Velvets mayhem and owner of the arm-waving coda to beat in 2012. The realm of the living and dancing, that's the place to be. Dilla knew it, Zevon knew it, Pierce knows it and lives to tell us.

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More by Nathan Phillips

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