Spiritualized's 'And Nothing Hurt' Is a Remarkably Efficient Record

Photo courtesy of Fat Possum Records

Jason Pierce's latest And Nothing Hurt is a kind of condensed greatest hits of the greatest merits of Spiritualized.

And Nothing Hurt

Fat Possum

7 September 2018

They don't really make them like Spiritualized much these days, and they didn't really make them like Spiritualized much back then either. Thankfully, Spiritualized still make them like Spiritualized.

Except: this time around, Jason Pierce, he who is Spiritualized, didn't really make it in the same way that he used to. Not in terms of the recording process, that is. Pierce -- a man with a musical mind steeped in rock's classics, who has made the spaciousness of a big recording studio an integral element of his band's sound, and who has a tendency of playing sizeable venues with a full band and a few gospel vocalists surrounding him -- recorded much of his latest album alone. In his home. On a computer.

And Nothing Hurt is a very unlikely kind of bedroom laptop album. How do the wide-eyed vision and open-armed stretch of Spiritualized survive crammed into a small room? Quite well, it turns out. Pierce did have to head into a real studio to record less portable instruments such as the timpani drums, but otherwise, he was left to his own devices; devices that were foreign to a former adherent of analogue.

In recent interviews, Pierce has spoken openly about how exasperating the process of recording And Nothing Hurt by himself could get. The thought alone of spending months on end just twiddling Pro Tool's knobs is exhausting, but, for not being a digital native, it appears he gradually learned the language well. Aside from moments such as the quiet ukulele strum that begins the buoyant, yearning opener "A Perfect Miracle", the finished product here projects the sonic heft of almost any other Spiritualized album.

Economic reasons played a part in Pierce's decision to record And Nothing Hurt upstairs at home, and there is another sense of economy that runs through the album as well. Coming in at nine songs in 48 minutes, its relative brevity among the Spiritualized catalog is comparable to Amazing Grace from 2003. Time and track totals don't accurately convey the weight of this album, however. And Nothing Hurt is a remarkably efficient record, a concise display of Pierce's songwriting, a kind of greatest hits of the greatest merits of Spiritualized.

The recording process was a leap into the unknown, but the album itself is not. Familiarity was once a commonly used critical indictment (and sometimes still is), but in the case of Spiritualized, with long players coming fewer and farther between as the years tick by, it has become a purely welcome quality. Listening to And Nothing Hurt can feel like going home again: the gentle Brit-blues guitar that introduces the sing-along single "Here It Comes (The Road) Let's Go", the swirling freak-out of "On the Sunshine", the elegant use of gospel vocals on the vintage closer, "Sail on Through". Through it all, the feeling is one of refinement, not repetition. There is somehow more than enough room for nearly eight surging, honking minutes of "The Morning After", the graceful love-ballad waltzes of "A Perfect Miracle" and "The Prize", and the Abbey Road vibe of "I'm Your Man".

All the frustration that Pierce felt over the course of putting together this album hasn't clouded the music. On the contrary, the songs, structures, and transitions all come and go natural and easy. The mood throughout continues the trajectory of uplift that characterized Sweet Heart Sweet Light six years ago, his lyrics here inflected with traces of un-tormented love and hard-earned zen. "C'mon baby, let's dance / C'mon darlin', let's dance," Pierce suggests as "Let's Dance" slowly lifts off, bells ringing, and lasers guiding the melody, nothing less pure and simple on his mind.







Zadie Smith's 'Intimations' Essays Pandemic With Erudite Wit and Compassion

Zadie Smith's Intimations is an essay collection of gleaming, wry, and crisp prose that wears its erudition lightly but takes flight on both everyday and lofty matters.


Phil Elverum Sings His Memoir on 'Microphones in 2020'

On his first studio album under the Microphones moniker since 2003, Phil Elverum shows he has been recording the same song since he was a teenager in the mid-1990s. Microphones in 2020 might be his apex as a songwriter.


Washed Out's 'Purple Noon' Supplies Reassurance and Comfort

Washed Out's Purple Noon makes an argument against cynicism simply by existing and sounding as good as it does.


'Eight Gates' Is Jason Molina's Stark, Haunting, Posthumous Artistic Statement

The ten songs on Eight Gates from the late Jason Molina are fascinating, despite – or perhaps because of – their raw, unfinished feel.


Apocalypse '45 Uses Gloriously Restored Footage to Reveal the Ugliest Side of Our Nature

Erik Nelson's gorgeously restored Pacific War color footage in Apocalypse '45 makes a dramatic backdrop for his revealing interviews with veterans who survived the brutality of "a war without mercy".


12 Brilliant Recent Jazz Albums That Shouldn't Be Missed

There is so much wonderful creative music these days that even an apartment-bound critic misses too much of it. Here is jazz from the last 18 months that shouldn't be missed.


Blues Legend Bobby Rush Reinvigorates the Classic "Dust My Broom" (premiere)

Still going strong at 86, blues legend Bobby Rush presents "Dust My Broom" from an upcoming salute to Mississippi blues history, Rawer Than Raw, rendered in his inimitable style.


Folk Rock's the Brevet Give a Glimmer of Hope With "Blue Coast" (premiere)

Dreamy bits of sunshine find their way through the clouds of dreams dashed and lives on the brink of despair on "Blue Coast" from soulful rockers the Brevet.


Michael McArthur's "How to Fall in Love" Isn't a Roadmap (premiere)

In tune with classic 1970s folk, Michael McArthur weaves a spellbinding tale of personal growth and hope for the future with "How to Fall in Love".


Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.


The Band's Discontented Third LP, 1970's 'Stage Fright', Represented a World Braving Calamity

Released 50 years ago this month, the Band's Stage Fright remains a marker of cultural unrest not yet remedied.


Natalie Schlabs Starts Living the Lifetime Dream With "That Early Love" (premiere + interview)

Unleashing the power of love with a new single and music video premiere, Natalie Schlabs is hoping to spread the word while letting her striking voice be heard ahead of Don't Look Too Close, the full-length album she will release in October.


Rufus Wainwright Makes a Welcome Return to Pop with 'Unfollow the Rules'

Rufus Wainwright has done Judy Garland, Shakespeare, and opera, so now it's time for Rufus to rediscover Rufus on Unfollow the Rules.


Jazz's Denny Zeitlin and Trio Get Adventurous on 'Live at Mezzrow'

West Coast pianist Denny Zeitlin creates a classic and adventurous live set with his long-standing trio featuring Buster Williams and Matt Wilson on Live at Mezzrow.


The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.


Arlo McKinley's Confessional Country/Folk Is Superb on 'Die Midwestern'

Country/folk singer-songwriter Arlo McKinley's debut Die Midwestern marries painful honesty with solid melodies and strong arrangements.


Viserra Combine Guitar Heroics and Female Vocals on 'Siren Star'

If you ever thought 2000s hard rock needed more guitar leads and solos, Viserra have you covered with Siren Star.


Ryan Hamilton & The Harlequin Ghosts Honor Their Favorite Songs With "Oh No" (premiere)

Ryan Hamilton's "Oh No" features guest vocals from Kay Hanley of Letters to Cleo, and appears on Nowhere to Go But Everywhere out 18 September.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.