100 Greatest Albums of the 90’s: #12

Spiritualized – Ladies & Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
Nine times out of ten, if a record advertises drugs, it’s to stay up for days and have a great time, not to kill the pain. Killing the pain is both the theme and the purpose of ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space’. What more do you expect from a record whose packaging is made up of a series of medical instructions: “One Tablet 70 Minutes”, “Play Once Twice Daily” “Q: What is Spiritualized used for? A: Spiritualized is used to treat the heart and soul.” This isn’t the typical druggie psychedelic zonk-out; it’s a carefully orchestrated, beautifully detailed suite of gospelized rockers, bluesy jazzy jams, howling noise explosions, heavenly choirs and heavy-hearted string-laden bona-fide tear-jerkers. The opening zombified love song title track shuffles numbly until it gradually awakes with a start at ‘Come Together’ which might be what Marc Bolan would have made if he liked trumpets and gospel. There aren’t many clear highlights since the material is so strong. There’s ‘I Think I’m In Love’ which shows a patient in intensive care unsure as to whether his symptoms indicate love or death, while the music circles around in blues-tinted waves. ‘Broken Heart’ may be the most achingly sad and simple song of its decade; simple in sentiment, not musically. The arrangement is so dense it engulfs you in blankets of grief, making the simple phrase “Lord, I have a broken heart” sound like it’s spoken by a man beyond tears. ‘The Individual’ is a noise collage based around a slow bass riff and almighty, gorgeous guitar wails. Probably its most memorable moment though is the closing epic ‘Cop Shoot Cop’, a voodoo blues junkie confession backed by Dr. John’s skulking pianos, slinky guitar twangs, rapturous trumpets and includes a long noise freak out which swallows you up for several minutes, numbing your senses until a blast of brass calls you back to what little reality there is left. This is the ultimate in headphone symphonies, and though drugs is the central theme, it sounds far too coherent and clever to be made by people who were high. If they were off their face they’d be too busy mashing blue-tac into the piano and gnawing on MDF to make such a masterwork.
Listen to: I Think I’m In Love


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