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Spiritualized 

Let It Come Down (Arista)

In the four years since Spiritualized's last album, the cosmos-tripping Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, singer-guitarist Jason Pierce more or less fired the group that helped assemble that drug-fueled landmark and returned to the studio as, basically, a one-man band with a lot of hired professionals to fill in the gaps. The result, Let It Come Down, is both an advancement of the ideas on Ladies and Gentlemen and a bombastic sequel, designed to better its predecessor. While it never quite reaches the relatively restrained beauty of Ladies and Gentlemen -- subtlety isn't one of Pierce's strongest characteristics -- Let It Come Down has a loveliness all its own. With orchestra and gospel choir in tow, Pierce puts forth religious songs that worship at no particular altar. It's a peace-and-love affair, with Pierce universally empathizing, "Come on, baby, stop your cryin'," with a sincerity and a heaviness that implies the weight of the world is on his shoulders.

It's still a druggy trip, but this time Pierce, as the title states, is coming down. And with arms stretched wide like a late-night messiah, he welcomes all into his blissed-out kingdom, brass and strings swirling around him. He may declare that he "Won't Get to Heaven (The State I'm In)"-- but don't believe it. Let It Come Down is Pierce's atonement. He closes the album with a cover of a piece by his former band, the Spacemen 3: "Lord Can You Hear Me" -- and it goes so over the top, you can practically hear Pierce dragging the kitchen sink into the studio behind him. These are hymns for space rockers contemplating their return to earth.

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