Sweet Heart Sweet Light is another one of these perfectly serviceable Spiritualized albums. Its highlight is probably "Headin' for the Top Now", which still packs in considerable derangement. Pierce's prowess at harnessing the ineffable is still palpable in the music. "I Am What I Am" starts with a rattle of chains and tambourines; a guesting Dr John provides the voodoo. The orchestrations throughout are elegant; "Get What You Deserve" fades in heroically, laden in fuzz.
But there's a lot of old rope here, let down further by Pierce's singing. Vocals have never really been the point of Spiritualized. But here, pushed way up in the mix, Pierce's words lose the mystique his intonations used to pack. As the cliches pile up, you wish Pierce had kept his vocals buried under layers of his erstwhile amniotic thrumming. His mama, apparently, told him that if he plays with fire he might get burnt. The fact that she's probably encouraging him to get burnt in love on "Too Late" doesn't stop you rolling your eyes. It's a tic this album provokes time and again.
(...) he pushes through his plight, with yet another offering drawn from his trinity of transcendence: love, drugs, and God. From its opening moments, in fact, Sweet Heart packs in one of Pierce’s most impressive works yet. “Hey Jane” is a nearly nine-minute Britpop throwback in two parts: The first bit grooves until it quickly collapses into itself, while the second part takes five minutes for a dramatic, James Brown-style rise from the ashes, with Pierce haunting the titular woman: “Hey Jane, are you gonna die?”
Sweet Heart is shot through with this sort of woozy awareness of mortality, draped in Pierce’s signature simple-yet-lush orchestrations. “Jane” is bookended by the gospel-tinged slow burn “So Long You Pretty Thing,” which pairs a church organ with a direct plea to Jesus. The lightheaded string section of “Get What You Deserve” feels like a simulation of an IV-drip hallucination, which Pierce winkingly acknowledges with the double entendre “gonna shoot you while you’re laying down.” Pierce may wish he was dead, as he sings on the George Harrison-tinged anthem “Little Girl,” but as Sweet Heart demonstrates clearly, with the right combination of chemicals, faith, and affection, it’s possible to achieve an imitation of the afterlife from right here on earth.