Do You Need Spiritualized’s Let It Come Down Reissue?

Four years after his addiction-and breakup-themed magnum opus Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, Spiritualized’s J Spaceman (Jason Pierce) reemerged with the band’s fourth album, 2001’s Let It Come Down. Greeted with high anticipation—and recently reissued as the final installment in Fat Possum’s Pierce-supervised Spaceman Reissue Program—Let It Come Down is now commonly seen as the moment when Spaceman lost the plot. “It all fell apart a little bit during this period,” he admits. Two decades later, Let It Come Down stands less as a great Spiritualized record and more as a product from the bygone era of expensive recording budgets and ample studio time.

Following the Ladies And Gentlemen tour (including a stint opening for Radiohead), J Spaceman suddenly fired three band members who’d previously complained about low wages (but weeks before being fired, had signed his employment contracts). Retaining from that LP’s recording lineup only guitarist John Pierce and inspired by Dion’s Phil Spector-produced “Born To Be With You,” Spaceman commenced work on a record, in size and expense at least, bigger than ever before. Utilizing 115 orchestra musicians and choir singers, Let It Come Down is, for better or worse, Spiritualized’s most extravagant outing. Unfortunately, the album’s buildups never achieve liftoff, and Pierce’s costly perfectionism came at a time when his addiction detailed on Ladies And Gentlemen spiraled even further out of control.

Pierce’s style never changed, rather it evolved. For a while, his work simultaneously grew in quality and grandiosity, peaking with Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space’s majestic production, intricate musical dynamics, and lyrical sense of desperation and longing. Arguably the pinnacle of 90s Brit-rock, that record left Spaceman with little room to get even bigger. Therefore, Let It Come Down feels inessential; the massive wall-of-sound construction technically impresses more than it emotionally entices, and as Pierce runs through the usual Spiritualized tropes, you realize he’s previously done it far better. The bombastic opener “On Fire” feels like an underwhelming remake of Ladies And Gentlemen’s “Electricity,” and the lyrically aggressive “The Twelve Steps” (“If you got the money for a rehab tour/You ain’t got a problem you can’t afford/I was very nearly clean, you know/‘Cos I only had twelve steps to go”) similarly offers nothing new. Let It Come Down’s second half includes the soaring, gospel-influenced highlights “Stop Your Crying,” “Won’t Get To Heaven (The State I’m In),” and “Lord Can You Hear Me,” but the grand orchestrations and massive choirs don’t replicate the transcendence of, say, “Cool Waves” or Lazer Guided Melodies“Shine A Light.” “Do It All Over Again” is a fresher exploration, with its dark lyrics, simple structure, and astonishingly dense sonic construction making it the album’s best track. The country-tinged “Don’t Just Do Something,” meanwhile, stalls for a listenable but uneventful seven minutes. As a full album, Let It Come Down is oddly paced and relatively forgettable, too overwhelmingly ginormous for everyday listeners and not noteworthy enough for more casual Spiritualized fans. While not necessarily a completist listen, it’s easily ignored by all but the diehard Spaceman devotee.

Spiritualized usually must be experienced on a well-produced LP rather than on a CD or as a digital file, though Fat Possum’s Let It Come Down vinyl reissue is an exception. The original mix will never sound great—it’s distorted, thin, a bit messy, and lacking in true dynamics. Cut by Barry Grint at Alchemy, plated at GZ, and pressed on 180g black or ivory colored vinyl at Memphis Record Pressing, this new double LP is a bit fuller and more spatially detailed than the 44.1/16 digital stream, though still harsh on the ears. If you already have the CD or are content streaming it, I’m not sure this vinyl reissue offers an improvement worth the $30-ish cost. (It’s also worth mentioning that unlike the other recently reissued Spiritualized albums, this sounds more like a start-to-finish hard drive recording, though I couldn’t find any information about that.) That said, MRP did a solid job on the 180g ivory colored vinyl, and the laminated tip-on gatefold jacket and thick printed inner sleeves are well-made despite the somewhat lackluster design.

(Malachi Lui is an AnalogPlanet contributing editor, music obsessive, avid record collector, and art enthusiast. He’s currently waiting for Kanye to properly finish Donda 2. Follow Malachi on Twitter and Instagram.)

Glotz's picture

The two examples from YT sound very similar. Super indulgent, way too pompous and overblown for little reason; though there are some nice melodies (two honestly).

Everything else around it just grates and wanders around on the same theme endlessly... Like both of these songs needed to stop 2 minutes in. They're both missing the build-up to this explosion of orgasmic release. The orchestrations are very pretty, albeit fairly shallow musical surfaces, in my mind.

For Stop Your Crying, unless I'm having sex with a crying lover, this is just way too fuckin much twirling on the mountainside for my brain. I'd give it a 5 max, which is showing respect. I still won't Qobuz it. Perhaps their earlier work again...

swimming1's picture

I tried to listen to this album.very difficult and lasted about 5 minutes.Perhaps I needed some type of stimulant or depressant? Cheers,Chet

MalachiLui's picture need any drugs, because it's simply not a fantasic spiritualized record. the ones before it are truly great, though.

swimming1's picture

Malachi ,I have enjoyed your reviews for the past year.You are knowledge and observant well beyond your ears. May I suggest you look for some Indian classical ragas to be musically and spiritually enlightened, as George Harrison did and was. Peace, Chet