Reviewed by Christopher Gray, Fri., Jan. 19, 2007
This "new Vietnam" has nothing to do with Iraq. It's the former Austinites' first proper album, Spiritualized's acid blues loose in a land of too many beards and too few baths (i.e. Brooklyn). Lou Reed and Bob Dylan linger as guideposts in the haze of frontman Michael Gerner's vision, which, as he asserts in opener "Step on Inside," is his and his alone. Gerner's room is one of the album's chief images and an obvious stand-in for his mind, never more so than the furious "Welcome to My Room." His three bandmates, meanwhile, provide a lush canvas of swooping slide and steel, languid organ, stray strings and horns, acres of guitar squall accenting Gerner's stormier sentiments, and lonely arpeggios mirroring his melting heart. Journeying from parody ("Mr. Goldfinger") to eulogy ("Toby"), Gerner often crosses paths with certain recreational pharmaceuticals, as well he might. But the Verve was wrong. The drugs do work.