For the eighth time in his Spiritualized guise, Jason Pierce returns to his rich font of emotional turmoil to bring yet another achingly beautiful record to the world. However, as the title suggests (taken from a line in Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five), this time round he has produced a piece of work to suggest that he is slowly moving past the personal crises of his past that have acted as catalysts for much of his previous output. Instead, it faces up to more universal themes of ageing, mortality and loss, but always in a way that swells the heart.
Opener ,‘A Perfect Miracle’, manages to be both a love song and a break-up song, apology and rejection, all in one. As stacked harmonies build up to a crescendo, an orchestra swirls in as a sprawling organ track sweeps through. It’s heady, it’s intoxicating, and it simply beggars belief that much of it is recorded through Pro Tools rather than for real.
For And Nothing Hurt, Pierce has captured and utilised samples to produce much of this expansive sound with only a handful of backing musicians, rather than using costly orchestras. In doing so, he has made a record as big sounding as any during his 90s heyday, a startling feat that is impossible to perceive whilst listening.
Much of the record is a masterful operation in self-restraint. The bluesy ‘I’m Your Man’ pulls back from the edge just as it threatens to become a big rock anthem, whereas ‘Here It Comes (The Road) Let’s Go’ manages to sound like the slowest road trip in history. Yet, when it lets loose, like on the epic ‘On The Sunshine’, it becomes a different beast altogether. With stream-of-consciousness lyrics splurging out, the psych freak-out accompanying it matches it stride for stride.
It is then followed by another highlight in the gentle ‘Damaged’, where strings and a soaring guitar meet at the exact midpoint over his fractured voice. It is stunning, with the orchestral element adding a real cinematic feel as it tugs ever more relentlessly at the heartstrings. ‘The Morning After’ again explodes into a wild cacophony of sound, before a final comedown with ‘The Prize’ and ‘Sail On Through’.
Pierce has warned that this may be the final Spiritualized album, due to his fear of repeating what has come before. And Nothing Hurt shows that that would be a real shame, as there appears to be so much more for him to say – and, if anything, his embrace of modern recording techniques, as shown here, means he should, in theory, blow the doors of imagination even wider apart.
Regardless of his final decision, however, this record is a beautifully reflective meditation on the journey through life that all must follow and will sit proudly amongst his classics that have come before.