Spiritualized Draws Up Conceptual Success Via Sprawling ‘Everything Was Beautiful’ (ALBUM REVIEW)

There are plenty of comparisons to be made between Jason Pierce’s last album 2018’s And Nothing Hurt and this year’s Everything Was Beautiful, beyond just the reverse Vonnegut quote. For one thing, And Nothing sounded distinctly simple when it was released, owing little to its sweeping, almost psychedelic predecessor, Sweet Heart Sweet Light. That made sense, when And Nothing came out, Pierce billed it as his final album and although it didn’t present the kind of finality many Spiritualized fans were looking for, it was still a relatively strong effort. As with the context given by the completion of the quote, Everything Was Beautiful also recontextualized And Nothing’s almost elementary approach to the Spiritualized sound. That album now sounds like a dry run, providing the kernels for the ideas that would form later on, instead of just a missed opportunity.

Everything Was Beautiful works as a grand statement, much in the same way the best Spiritualized albums do, with spacey, sprawling compositions that take those simple kernels and build and layer them to almost operatic ends. The genesis of this album can be drawn back to the pandemic, as most things can these days. With touring suspended, Pierce has been slowly reissuing his back catalog, and in the process found time to record his newest album.

As a result, Everything Was Beautiful pulls heavily from throughout the Spiritualized catalog, whether it be the Ladies and Gentlemen-era “Best Thing You Ever Had”, the soft, sentimentality of Pierce’s mid-career work on “Crazy” or the lush balance of And Nothing. All those influences, and their tonal similarities to his last album, never distract or take away from the conceptual success of Everything Was Beautiful. Unlike And Nothing, these songs work together to meld their differences and naturally push themselves past the five-minute mark. With these improvements, Everything Was Beautiful easily ascends to the top half of Spiritualized releases, not an easy feat for a musician who could reasonably be called an elder statesman. If this does end up being the final Spiritualized album, and given Pierce’s string of health issues, that’s always a possibility, there would be worse ways to go out.

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