Spirituailzed Pure Phase
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This album is often dismissed as a transitional release between two more substantial efforts, and while I don’t disagree with that opinion, Pure Phase is a fine album in its own right. Less suite-like than Laser Guided Melodes, with 12 distinct songs, this album is also less cohesive, and it has more moods as it veers between dreamy mood pieces and ear splittingly loud noise-fests. In general I prefer the former, as some of the more abrasive latter stuff can really test my patience, but though Pure Phase has its ups and downs some of the ups are pretty incredible. This album hits an immediate peak with the epic psychedelia of “Medication,” which starts with those church-y keyboards that play such an important role throughout the album. This 8-minute song is mostly very mellow but has periodic surges where the excitement is upped considerably, and there’s a certain uplifting euphoria and an undeniable sense of grandeur to the song (as with many of the best Spiritualized songs). Gorgeous flute highlights the more modest standout “The Slide Song,” while “All Of My Tears” is a pretty rewrite of an old Spaceman 3 song on which the dreamy, swirling sound again dominates. Even better is “Let It Flow,” which has more church-y organ and adds hooky gospel-y vocals as well, which would soon become an increasing band trademark along with the droning guitars that anchor their massive Wall Of Sound. The other highlights here are "Lay Back in the Sun," one of those (loud, poppy) songs that simply makes me glad to be alive, while the woozy "Spread Your Wings" provides a gorgeously affecting and suitably epic climax near the end of the album. Elsewhere, there are some pleasant songs that offer mere background music, and there are even a few that I tend to skip entirely, as Pure Phase to me is more about its peaks whereas Laser Guided Melodies was more about its consistency and start to finish listenability. Again, I prefer the former, but soundwise this was the album that pointed the way to their superior, breakthrough next release.