A beautiful landscape of sound
And Nothing Hurt, the new album by English rock band Spiritualized, is like a dreamy gaze into the night sky. There’s a sense of wonder, exploration and beauty in these songs that gives the album its character. Spiritualized call upon the very best elements of shoegaze and dream pop to create a wall of sound through sonic layering and alluring, melodic progressions.
And Nothing Hurt opens with “Perfect Miracle,” an airy introduction led by soft vocals, ukulele and synthesizer. Spiritualized build a rich, full sound as the song progresses, culminating with the refrain, “I’d like to sit around and dream you up a perfect miracle.” While it doesn’t stand out as one of the album’s best tracks, it effectively sets the stage for the rest of the record.
Up next is “I’m Your Man,” a slow-moving waltz accompanied by a tasteful Jimi Hendrix-style guitar riff. This track plays like the end credits song of a feel-good teen comedy when two young lovers finally come together. Musically, “I’m Your Man” intrinsically captures the authenticity and imprecision of young love. Already one of the album’s best songs, it’s taken to the next level by a face-melting guitar solo.
“Here It Comes” dovetails nicely with the first two tracks, as it contains a synthesizer tone similar to “Perfect Miracle” along with a downtempo drum beat and pretty guitar licks reminiscent of “I’m Your Man.” This song has a beautifully triumphant quality that just makes you want to jump in your car, get on the road and drive with no destination.
Later in the record, “Damaged” introduces a new stylistic element: steel guitar. It’s prominent throughout the track and highly expressive. This song effectively juxtaposes a cheery major tonality with sorrowful lyrics, such as “I’m lost and damaged over you.”
“The Morning After” is a distinctly different sound from much of the rest of And Nothing Hurt. It steps out of the realm of shoegaze and explores a jam band sound lead by wailing wah-wah guitar solos and masterful improvisation from the horn section. Rather than feeling forced and inauthentic, this change of pace works well.
“The Prize” will challenge listeners. A return to the band’s core sound, this song finds the narrator pondering some of life’s biggest questions. He wonders “if love is the prize” and whether “love is so pure.” The narrator presents these doubts, but never fully resolves them definitively. It’s difficult to get a read on where he finally lands, but ultimately this state of paralysis, indecision and not knowing the answers is the point of the song.
And Nothing Hurt is a blank canvas on which Spiritualized paint a beautiful landscape of sound. It’s explorative and adventurous, uplifting at times and sobering at others. Spiritualized have crafted a quality album, and fans of dream pop, shoegaze and synth-pop will enjoy And Nothing Hurt.