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Spiritualized: Amazing Grace®

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Since his departure from the influential Spacemen 3, Jason Pierce has piloted Spiritualized's five studio albums through many drugged-out courses, from woozy psychedelia to fuzz-bomb garage rock, each informed by gospel, the blues, and a compelling cavalcade of narcotic and spiritual baggage. On 2001's Let It Come Down, grandiose arrangements battled Pierce's uninspired lyrics for attention, but on Amazing Grace®, the battle arrives in the form of a musical split personality. The surprisingly eloquent "Hold On," the soothing "Oh Baby," and the soul-searching "Lord Let It Rain On Me" find Pierce employing variations on the warm, subtly intricate approach he brought to 1997's outstanding Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space. But Amazing Grace® keeps steering the conversation back to chugging, interchangeable garage-rock that hits the genre signifiers–fuzz, feedback, Farfisa–with bloodless, anonymous precision. The album never establishes a cohesive chemistry after the opening blast of "This Little Life Of Mine" and "She Kissed Me (It Felt Like A Hit)" fades away and gives way to the first of many drastic tonal shifts. At its best, Amazing Grace® finds Pierce and his many supporting players piecing their disparate moods and sounds into moments of catharsis only Spiritualized could create. But too often, those ingredients are doled out separately, as the album jerks through jarringly integrated fragments that should have run together seamlessly.