Posted in Music

Everything Was Beautiful – Spiritualized album review

Happy Saturday, bibliophiles, and happy world book day as well!! You’d think I’d have a book-related post today, but…nope. No thoughts, only Spiritualized for the next 3-5 business weeks.

Normally, I wait for a few days to a week after an album’s release to review it, but…well, between my listening to it yesterday and my dad playing it the whole way through in the car yesterday evening, I’ve probably listened to it three or four times in its entirety already, so…

Spiritualized has been one of my favorite bands for around two years—even longer, if you count when I first heard “Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space” for the first time and listened to it on repeat to fall asleep on vacation. Their music, if I had to describe it in one word, is all-consuming; J Spaceman has built a stunning career out of making a song into a vast cosmos of sound, making themes of heartbreak, addiction, and new love into the dictionary definition of larger-than-life. That’s what I’ve always loved about his music—his songs never feel like just songs, but experiences.

By the time I’d really gotten into Spiritualized, I’d accepted that I wouldn’t be able to see him live or experience a new album of his; he’d said in several interviews that And Nothing Hurt would likely be his last album. But in late 2021, we were gifted with the best kind of surprise: we would be getting more Spiritualized after all!! Now that it’s here, I can say with certainty that there isn’t a single bad song on this album. It’s probably impossible to re-achieve the genius of Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space or Sweet Heart Sweet Light, but Everything Was Beautiful comes very close, even at just seven songs.

Enjoy this album review!

EVERYTHING WAS BEAUTIFUL – SPIRITUALIZED ALBUM REVIEW

TRACK 1: “Always Together With You” – 10/10

This was the first single to come out of this album, and it singlehandedly provided all of the serotonin that I needed to get through the rest of 2021, so there’s that.

It’s not hard for me to say that this is easily one of Spiritualized’s best songs. Expansive and cosmic, I feel as though I’ve been lifted into the air and through the clouds every time I listen to it. I was texting my family about it when it first came out, and I jokingly called it “‘Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space’ but happy,” and as much of a joke it was, it feels true; “Always Together With You” feels like a more matured, more hopeful version of its predecessor, down to the morse code sounds and J Spaceman’s daughter (😭) saying the album’s title at the very beginning. Absolute masterpiece.

TRACK 2: “Best Thing You Never Had (The D Song)” – 8.5/10

Smoothly transitioning from “Always Together With You,” “Best Thing You Never Had” keeps up the momentum set up by the first track with classic Spiritualized elements—catchy guitars, a backing choir, and what sounds like a good-sized brass section. Just as spacey as ever, it’s the perfect song for rolling the windows down in your car, and it’s sure to cement this album as one of Spiritualized’s best.

TRACK 3: “Let It Bleed (For Iggy)” – 9.5/10

When I saw Spiritualized back at the beginning of the month, this was one of my favorites of the new songs they played. Now that I’m hearing it through my headphones, it’s one of my favorites off the album! Here’s where the momentum sustained by “Best Thing You Never Had” picks up once more, with another sweeping, all-consuming thing of pure beauty.

TRACK 4: “Crazy” (cover of Nikki Lane’s “Out of My Mind”) – 8.5/10

(so apparently this is a cover?? took me a while to find out…I guess because the original has a different title)

“Crazy” is one of my least favorites on the album, but it’s beautiful nonetheless. Even as a cover (I’ve only listened to the original once, so…), it’s indicative of the quiet, genuine tenderness that J Spaceman is capable of amidst all of the heartbreak and darkness that’s prevalent in so many of his other songs. Lovely.

TRACK 5: “The Mainline Song” – 9.5/10

This is another Spiritualized piece that seems more like a journey than a song—all of the train sounds layered in only adds to that effect. With J Spaceman’s airy vocals and rushing instrumentals, it’s another song that seems to physically carry you somewhere else, watching the clouds rushing by. It doesn’t even matter that it’s chiefly instrumental—it’s an unmistakable highlight of the album.

TRACK 6: “The A Song (Laid In Your Arms)” – 9.5/10

Like “Best Thing You Never Had,” “The A Song” is a persistent, powerful march reminiscent of Spiritualized’s harder side. For Spiritualized, longer songs are a common sight, but at over seven minutes long, this song never loses its impact or momentum, delivering guitars and brass that crash against you like waves on the shore. Nothing short of a masterpiece—and another song that was phenomenal live!

TRACK 7: “I’m Coming Home Again” – 10/10

For a lot of Spiritualized albums, the final song is either a sweeping ballad or a mournful, soft ending. “I’m Coming Home Again” is neither of those—and it’s almost more powerful than some examples of both. It’s the longest song on the album at almost 10 minutes long, and like “The A Song,” never loses its momentum all that time. But unlike the former, it achieves its affect more in its consistent feeling of foreboding. It’s a haunting song—I have an oddly specific feeling that it would mesh perfectly in the second-to-last episode of a TV show, in a scene where the main character gets their revenge, walking away from lighting something on fire. From the first notes to the final strains of the choir, “I’m Coming Home Again” is a looming masterpiece, and an unexpected but perfect ending to a near-flawless album.

I averaged out all my ratings for each track, and it came to about a 9.4! Absolutely accurate to how I feel about Everything Was Beautiful—it’s hard to touch some of Spiritualized’s other albums, but this album establishes itself as one of J Spaceman’s masterpieces. It’s the perfect melding of the sound of 90’s Spiritualized with the hope of 10’s Spiritualized, and it makes for an album with a lasting, haunting, and eternally memorable effect. Thank you, J Spaceman, for another religious experience. 💗

“Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.” – Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five

Since this is an album review, consider the entire album today’s song.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Lucifer on the Sofa – Spoon album review

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Sorry that I went M.I.A. for a bit there. I was visiting family in Florida over President’s Day weekend, and I just had zero energy once I got back. But now I’m here, writing a post that I’ve been excited to write for a few weeks!

You know what I think about a lot? The time my old English teacher though my Spoon shirt was a Morrissey shirt 😭

Spoon is one of those bands that have been a consistent presence in my life. I heard their songs on car rides, and car rides turned to concerts, and concerts turned to albums. For me, they’re one of the few bands I know who are better live than listening remotely—they bring such an exuberance and energy onstage, and their talents as musicians is apparent with every song they play.

So I was so excited to hear that they’d be releasing a new album in 2022! Prior to this, I’d never listened to a full album of theirs (although Gimme Fiction has been on my list for quite some time), but listening to Lucifer on the Sofa was such a bright, energizing experience. It’s only February, but this is already on my list of favorite albums of the year. (Though it’ll have some competition when Everything Was Beautiful comes out…am I getting too hasty?)

Let’s begin this review, shall we?

LUCIFER ON THE SOFA – SPOON ALBUM REVIEW

TRACK 1: “Held” (Smog cover) – 8.5/10

Starting an album off with a cover is a bold move, but at this point, Spoon can do no wrong. And this is a fantastic cover—if I didn’t know that it was a cover, I 100% would’ve thought that this was fully their song. I might even like it better than the original! The steady drumbeat and the melody that feels like it rolls over you create an atmosphere that sets up the whole album for instant success. Needless to say, I have not been able to stop listening to this!

(here’s the original by Smog, if you’re interested.)

TRACK 2: “The Hardest Cut” – 8/10

They’re sayin’ you need a little protection,

But following the leader gonna turn you off the religion…

Spoon, “The Hardest Cut”

This was the first single to come out of this album, and it reminded me of why I love Spoon. The guitars are what shine the most—”The Hardest Cut” doesn’t hesitate to dive into Spoon’s heavier side, and the guitars are the main driving force behind it. At the same time, it’s a relentlessly steady and catchy song, making this song proof of Spoon’s versatility.

TRACK 3: “The Devil and Mister Jones” – 8.5/10

For any album, there are some songs that you know will grab you way before you listen to them, just because of how hooking the title is. I don’t know what it is about the name “The Devil and Mister Jones” that caught my eye, but either way, it’s an undoubted highlight of this album. Catchy and bright-sounding, it has a timeless feel to it, like it could have just as easily come out of the 2010’s or even the 2000’s. LOVE it.

TRACK 4: “Wild” – 8.5/10

I was reminded every measure

Of riding trade winds, buried treasure…

Spoon, “Wild”

This one was the second single that was released, and another absolute earworm! The instrumentation is phenomenal, Britt Daniel’s voice stands out in the best way possible, and the beat makes it impossible for you not to nod your head. Instant classic.

TRACK 5: “My Babe” – 7.5/10

“My Babe” was the final single to be released from Lucifer on the Sofa, and although it’s my least favorite of the three, it’s still a perfect head-nodding, shoulder-swaying kind of song. However, there’s something about the lyrics that feels off-kilter. Not so much the message, but the way they sound, if that makes sense? I’m not sure. Not as strong as the others, but that’s a high bar—”My Babe” is still a good one.

TRACK 6: “Feels Alright” – 8/10

Standing here by myself,

A photograph with no correction

From me or anybody else…

Spoon, “Feels Alright”

Here’s another one that feels distinctly timeless. There’s an a quality to it that makes it feel ageless. For all we know, it could be from today, from the 2010’s, the 2000’s…even the future, who knows what Spoon will be doing five or ten years from now? That aside, it’s such a strong song! I especially love the piano/keyboard work on this one.

TRACK 7: “On the Radio” – 8.5/10

(I just realized that the animation for the official audios just zooms in on the album cover’s face…IT’S SO CURSED)

(WHY IS IT LOOKING AT ME LIKE THAT)

“On the Radio” distinctly feels like the last few singles pre-Lucifer—something about the key, the fast tempo, the overall tightness of the whole song that makes me remember hearing “No Bullets Spent” for the first time. The guitars feel so full and rich, and the effects layered over them only adds to the effect. Another winner!

TRACK 8: “Astral Jacket” – 8.5/10

“Astral Jacket” is where Lucifer slows down—just in tempo, certainly not in quality. This song, along with “Satellite,” remind me of how well Spoon can convey tenderness through music; there’s an atmosphere around it that feels like a tired hug on a warm night. Simply lovely.

TRACK 9: “Satellite” – 8.5/10

Continuing the soft, tender atmosphere that “Astral Jacket” started, “Satellite” creates a floating-in-space atmosphere that fills up my heart. It reminds me most of “The Delicate Place,” my favorite Spoon song; the melody goes up and down, but it’s consistent in its warmth.

TRACK 10: “Lucifer on the Sofa” – 8/10

And I’m chasing every thought

And I’m walking over water,

Thinking about what I lost…

Spoon, “Lucifer on the Sofa”

For Spoon, my focus is usually the music over the lyrics, but for “Lucifer on the Sofa,” it’s both. I love all the descriptions in this one, from ash on lips to winter skies. There’s a consistency to the music as well—the saxophones are a strange addition, but it works perfectly for the smoky feel of this song. Not my favorite of this album, but a great little closer.

I averaged out the scores for each track, and it came out to a solid 8.3! Feels just right for the album; I haven’t listened to enough full Spoon albums to say where it ranks on the list, but it’s a success regardless. I remember periods of my life in terms of albums, and Lucifer on the Sofa will surely be among the ranks of albums I remember this year by. Can’t wait to see them again this May!

Since this is an album review post, consider the entire album today’s song.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

Posted in Music

Making a Door Less Open (Car Seat Headrest) Album Review

Making a Door Less Open | Car Seat Headrest

Happy Saturday, everyone!

Those of you who’ve been following this blog for a while know how much I love Car Seat Headrest. Ever since…oh, maybe 7th grade (?), their songs have never failed to enchant me and pull me in. So naturally, I was absolutely over-the-moon when I found out that they were releasing a new album in the form of Making a Door Less Open. After a few listens, however, I’m not quite disappointed, but I think I set my expectations too high. That isn’t to say that it isn’t a decent album, but I think they released all the good singles first.

Anyway, let’s get on with the review, shall we?

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TRACK 1: “Weightlifters”–8.5/10

WOW. 

Now that is what I can an AMAZING start to an album. With the slow-burn effects, combined with Will Toledo’s signature, introspective lyrics, this is an absolute stunner of a first track. Probably my favorite of the songs that weren’t released as singles beforehand.

TRACK 2: “Can’t Cool Me Down”–10/10

This was the first single that was released, back in…March, I believe. A vastly new direction for Car Seat Headrest, but one that I enjoy thoroughly. Well-written and eternally catchy. Definitely the highlight of the album for me.

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TRACK 3: “Deadlines (Hostile)”–8/10

This feels like something straight off of Teens of Denial, and if we’re talking about that album, it’s always a compliment. Lyrically poignant and musically pleasing, this one 100% contributes to the album’s strong start.

TRACK 4: “Hollywood”–8.5/10

Here we veer into a briefly punchy and screamy direction for CSH, and it’s in no way a bad thing. I’m interested to see that Andrew Katz (drummer & producer of this album, correct me if I’m wrong on the latter) is starting to contribute vocals, and though I didn’t care for it as much at first, but it meshes well with the overall feel with the song

IT’S KINDA GROOVY

TRACK 5: “Hymn (Remix)”–5/10 

Eh…this is where the album starts to go downhill for me. It’s like they were trying to go more in the synthy direction of “Can’t Cool Me Down,” but it…didn’t work. Not much in the lyrics department, and a wholly unnecessary slathering of autotune and weirdness that ultimately sullies Will Toledo’s gorgeous voice.

God, I know I sound snooty, but personally, this is the worst song on the album…

TRACK 6: “Martin”–8.5/10

(First off, thank you to Will Toledo/Trait for retaining clean habits during these uncertain times…)

Such a sweet love song, with Toledo’s signature, beautiful lyrics. Catchy and unusually bright, considering most of the subject matter of…a good 75% of the rest of their discography.

TRACK 7: “Deadlines (Thoughtful)”–7.5/10

I feel like this is the weaker of the two “Deadlines,” but that’s not to say that I don’t like it. Though some of the effects don’t bug me, the a capella ending (starting at about 5:37) really manages to tug at my heartstrings.

TRACK 8: “What’s With You Lately”–7.5/10

Short and sweet just as depressing as you’d expect any CSH song to be. A tender meditation on creativity and seeing other people imitate your work. Also, we haven’t really heard Ethan Ives (guitar) contribute any other vocals other than backing vocals, so it’s cool to see him doing lead vocals on a song.

TRACK 9: “Life Worth Missing”–7/10

Certainly a decent song, and wonderful lyrically, but musically, it’s bordering on…spineless? With a song like this, it kind of needs punchy guitars throughout, and it almost gets there in the second half, but not quite enough to be potent.

TRACK 10: “There Must Be More Than Blood”–8.5/10

Another strong point on the album, this feels reminiscent of some of their older, longer songs, especially ones like “Famous Prophets (Stars)” and “Cosmic Hero”. Potent and tender, this one’s definitely one of the more memorable songs off of this album.

TRACK 11: “Famous”–6/10

Afer such a beautiful song as “There Must Be More Than Blood,” “Famous” feels like a letdown of an album closing. If not for the effects layered on the vocals, I probably would have liked it a lot better–the lyrics are incredible, but they almost get lost in all the discordant autotune layered over them. Eh.

Car Seat Headrest — Radio 1190

I averaged out all of the song ratings, and it narrowed down to about a 7.7/10. I’d say that’s accurate–it’s certainly not a bad album, but it’s not nearly as mind-blowingly good as Teens of Denial or Twin Fantasy (Face to Face). There’s certainly a multitude of strong points (“Can’t Cool Me Down,” etc.), but the more mediocre tracks only serve to weight it down. A daring exploration into a new kind of sound for Car Seat Headrest, but one that had its highs and lows.

Since this post was an album review, you can…pretty much just consider the whole album for “Today’s song”.

That’s it for this album review! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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