“You were born on a black day, shot through with starlight…”

After a couple of spotty albums that nevertheless contained some very inspired material, Spiritualized releases their best album since Ladies And Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space, its landmark 1997 release: Songs In A&E (which stands for Accident and Emergency, for you non-UK readers) features a set of music largely inspired by frontman J. Spaceman’s (aka Jason Pierce) near-fatal bout with double pneumonia in 2005. Some of them are stark ruminations on mortality, as with “Death Take Your Fiddle,” a slow burning number complete with respirator sounds, while others are romantic tunes, often done on epic scales, such as the current single, “Soul On Fire” and the most excellent “Baby I’m A Fool,” which builds into a psychedelic folk rock jam. Towards the end, there’s also a spooky and powerful tune called “Borrowed Your Gun,” which may be about inherited familial anger or else family violence, physical or emotional, real or imagined. “Good Night Goodnight” ends the album on a lovely mixture of melancholy and hope. The music features Spiritualized’s usual mix of rock, soul, shoegaze and space rock, along with rousing choral arrangements. J. Spaceman’s often poetic lyrics touches on the album’s weighty themes without feeling cliched or sappily sentimental. Songs In A&E is an important work from one of this generation’s most unique and innovative bands.