Weeping over the belated discovery that Jason Pierce’s lyrical characters have always been storefront, recovered drug addict, make-sure-you-drop-a-fiver-into-the-church-fund preachers instead of hopelessly honest rock saints, spilling their guts on rock’s velvety altar, is as useless as it is misguided. We should instead all relish the legitimate honesty of Let It Come Down’s message: Rock, devotion and humor can all worship in the same studio with a full orchestra, gospel choir and monotone genius.
Lest we forget why we should listen to the English bastard, within minutes of the first opening piano-guitar riff rocker, “On Fire,” Pierce, aka J. Spaceman, quickly surpasses the talent and balls of 90 percent of modern rock records by using a full gospel choir to open up his initial four-on-the-floor workout. On other tracks, such as “Stop Your Crying,” and the closer, “Lord Can You Hear Me,” Pierce keeps things spontaneous with a full orchestra and gospel choir, a feat only equaled by Pierce’s love for tortured-rock sentimentality a la the Velvet Underground and Leonard Cohen. It is the same realm that Pierce has been working on since his first post-Spaceman 3 album, Lazer Guided Melodies, in 1992. The difference on Let It Come Down is Pierce’s ingenuity in cutting to the chase in lyrics as well as structure.
On tracks such as “Don’t Just Do Something” Spaceman expands the possibilities of stereo while lampooning the very damaged artist-hero that he himself has been made out to be — and never was (“I’m going to drown before my ship comes in/And I forgot to ring my mom again”). And thank God. If after four albums of tongue-in-cheek humor rifled through sheer pop genius we finally realize he’s been taking the piss, then it is our own damage, not his. By slaying his own legend, Pierce has opened up the future. On “Won’t Get to Heaven (The State I’m In),” Pierce and choir sing, “I believe my time ain’t long.” Amen.
Visit the Spiritualized Web site at www.spiritualized.com.
Carleton S. Gholz writes about music for the Metro Times. E-Mail [email protected].