A Spiritualized Season: The Attractions Of A Broken Heart
If you’re anything like me you’ll routinely spend far too much of your time munching through a steady succession of music blogs. The alluring jabber of words, a delicatessen of needle upon vinyl (or whatever witchcraft it is that fires up an embedded mp3 – I like to imagine a bewhiskered gentleman armed with a hand crank, as if about to awaken a 1926 Bugatti) – there’s some damn fine stuff out there; well-heeled boys and girls who intrinsically know how to write, and are intimately acquainted with the mechanics of sound.
And should you regularly investigate the homogeneous mass of music blogdom, you’ll have surely noticed a propensity for date-themed posts. It’s as if we all adhere to some unspoken agreement to align whatever the hell it is we’re carping on about to the proclivities of the calendar. Cue Christmas posts, summer posts, John Peel-day posts, Bolivian Independence Day posts. Etc…
I try to avoid that trap where I can – particularly at this time of year, when we’ll no doubt be spoiled rotten by references to Feb 14th, the date we all mark the anniversary of Khomeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie, or something. Apart from a devout allegiance to contrariness, I’ve always been somewhat underwhelmed by music that celebrates matters of the heart – when it’s songs of break-up, of heartbreak that resonate far more completely. I guess that it’s something to do with emotional context; falling in love and professing so – not a sentiment I’m going to knock, and certainly not something whose severity of passion I’m happy to undermine, but as an adaptation of being it’s entrenched in a spectrum of single-dimensional assimilation, a consensus of emotional response we can all acknowledge and in some way relate to.
Break-up, however – this is something that summons a far wider range of notes, sentiment that’s twisted, that flaunts an allegiance not only to unpredictable inflexion but also conflicting reflexes; bitterness, celebration, rancour, self-examination, anger, hatred, self-hate. It’s a richer,essentially naked crop through which to explore sound; I’d much rather listen to the kitchen sink melodrama of Soft Cell’s ‘Say Hello, Wave Goodbye’ than one of Marc Almond’s schmaltzier numbers. I’m obviously not a fan of Kelis, but to hear her (or at least an embedded sample) scream I hate you so much right now carries far more power than any declaration of never-ending amore.
It’s source material as something jagged, diffuse in agenda; I’m always going to approve.
Below the words, ‘Broken Heart’ by Spiritualized. For a blog that references the début album at the top of each page in big, fuck-off letters, there’s been a distinct lack of Spiritualized action hereabouts. No doubt a conscious decision, as this could easily turn into a platform of J Spaceman worship, a detail almost homo-erotic in its adoration of the canon – although not mentioning Spiritualized was always going to change, what with the forthcoming release of new long player Sweet Heart Sweet Light (we’ll ignore for now any conjecture about the precise release date, or which specific mix it’ll be that makes it onto whatever we have instead of record racks these days).
This track was originally released on Ladies and Gentleman We Are Floating In Space, and subsequently re-recorded – a fuller, bluesier arrangement – for the Abbey Road EP (the version featured here). A sad song, a default position unafraid to embrace honesty. Jason Pierce’s lyrics all seductively pivot around themes of salvation – that will be the hypothesis I’ll be putting forward in the restrained number of Spiritualized posts that’ll be appearing here over the next month or so – and ‘Broken Heart’ is an interesting example, brazen in the degree of self-exposure (indeed, you could suggest that it approaches a self-pitying tonal quality), but never entirely rejecting redemption.
This isn’t the strongest Spiritualized song (indeed, its loses a degree of context when isolated from parent album). Yet it’s a track I’m indelibly fond of, and although I’m conscious not to swamp you – dear reader – with yet more posts on a single artist, these are themes that will be explored. Probably in indecent detail.
Spiritualized / Broken Heart (Abbey Road EP version)