A bit of clarification
asks how I can like Pure Phase
more than Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space
. Well, the answer is that I don't. Ladies and Gentlemen...
is far and away my favourite album of any by Spiritualised or Spacemen 3. And it's possible that when I pull out Laser-Guided Melodies
again it will slide gracefully into second place, at least for Spiritualised albums. The thing is though that I'd only ever "really liked" Spiritualised rather than "flat out adored" them. Buying Pure Phase
changed that because I'm currently at a stage where I'm more receptive to the band's style than I was when I first got into them, but I wouldn't have realised this if I hadn't had to immerse myself in a new (to me) album by them.
Listening to Pure Phase made me realise that I love the band on a purely musical level, and then when I relistened to Ladies and Gentlemen... I wondered what made that album seem so much more intimate and personal; hence the thinkpiece. I often find that each album I buy from a band or artist teaches me something about the other albums I have by them, or at least my relationship with them. The most obvious example of this is the way I usually don't completely reconcile myself to a new album by a favourite artist until the next one arrives and demonstrates to me, through its differences, what made the previous one so special.
Having said that, I do think that Pure Phase is a fantastic, sorely underrated album. More stately and ghostly than Ladies and Gentlemen, but more conflicted than "Laser-Guided Melodies, it pretty much captures everything that's fantastic about the band precisely by being a compromise between its earlier and later incarnations. The alien beauty of "The Slide Song" affects me more than anything similar from the first album because it follows the catharsis of "Medication" and precedes the alien noise of "Electric Phase". I love the drifting ambience of the title track because it allows me to breathe between the straight rock of "Good Times" and the swelling strings of "Spread Your Wings". And while there's nothing to match "Broken Heart" for emotional resonance, correspondingly there's nothing on Ladies and Gentlemen... as meaninglessly beautiful as "Electric Mainline".
Because Pure Phase doesn't reduce me to a nervous wreck like Ladies and Gentlemen... does, but at the same time doesn't zone out so completely as Laser-Guided Melodies I actually find it to be the band's most approachable, friendly album. That doesn't make it my favourite album by the band, but it has certainly changed my relationship with the one that is.