Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space, by Spiritualized
Suggested by Ashley Rogers
In 1997, Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space, by Spiritualized, toped the NME Album of the Year Awards list, beating out stern competition from the likes of Radiohead (Ok Computer) and The Verve (Urban Hymns).
This wasn’t their first time on this list. In 1992, they placed third with Laser Guided Melodies. They also placed in 2001, a creditable second place with Let It Come Down.
It seems that Spiritualized have a certain pedigree in this arena, an enviable cache spanning eight studio albums over thirty years. So why the hell don’t they register with me on any level whatsoever?
I suppose it’s something to do with my metallic roots. Yeah, that old hoary bugbear. But that’s not the full picture. I know a lot of the main players from the Nineties, across a number of genres and styles. So why no Spiritualized?
Digging deeper through this hole in my musical knowledge reveals one possible explanation for my initial blankness. Spiritualized never really hit the singles chart heights that were captured by your Blurs, your Verves, your Pulps in the same period. Their highest finish was a mediocre 18th, with a song that’s Not On This Album. That doesn’t change the score I’m about to impart, but it’s interesting to see how much the charts insidiously influence things even when you are paying them no heed.
Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space is the band’s seminal work, and you can hear why from the first few bars. There’s a lush sound, spacious and engaging, with multiple layers and an unassuming vocal that massages the tracks rather than drives them. The whole album floats by, yet while there’s a yearning and a melancholy in places, there’s also something more uplifting, more worshipful, obviously lifted by the strong gospel sheen adopted throughout. There’s a spiritual edge to Spiritualized, which is apt.
While all the songs are mellifluous, it’s when the heat is turned up that I take the most pleasure here. My choice for standout tune is Electricity, although there’s a lot to be said for the slower numbers like Stay With Me and Cool Waves. The overall timbre of the album is one of quiet reflection, with the peaks and troughs of intensity fitting neatly within boundaries that are clearly defined and established early.
As usual, one must take the rough with the smooth in these matters, and there are a couple of occasions that the layered sound becomes strangely cacophonous, a jarring distraction that stabs a dagger through the bell curve of gentility that flows through everything. It happens more than once, but the poster track for such excess is the seventeen-minute Cop Shoot Cop, which is topped and tailed with some great work, but this brackets a segment that sounds like an orchestra in a washing machine spin cycle. Overlong, and overindulgent.
I enjoyed most of Ladies And Gentlemen, We Are Floating In Space. It’s uplifting, engaging and packed with ideas. But it’s patchy in places, and infuriating in others. My 7/10 is still a fine score, but I feel that, in missing this album the first time around, I’ve done the band few favours.