Huh? Hallelujah. Spiritualized, Sweet Heart Sweet Light.

There's no doubting Jason Pierce has had a right old time of it since opting to run with the empowering Spiritualized moniker now over two decades ago. A frequent inhabitant of hallucinatory environs and a self-professed "waster" for much of the past twenty-odd years, his hedonistic tendencies caught up with him back in 2006 when on September 11th, having played an emotive set backing fellow visionary Patti Smith at London's Queen Elizabeth Hall, he suffered a quite unnatural disaster all of his own. Subsequently diagnosed with a debilitating bout of double pneumonia he was whisked away to A&E where, under the influence of Lord-knows-what and with his lungs inundated with indeterminate liquid, his heart stopped. Twice. He was, to paraphrase his own terminology and adopt his evident beliefs, the closest he's been to a gentle man Floating in Space. Songs in A&E (released in 2008) was, in light of then recent events, a part-harrowing if wholly heartwarming return to steadier ground and now in 2012, in seemingly quite fine fettle, we've Sweet Heart Sweet Light and we've whoever may have been smiling down upon Pierce way back when to thank for it's his finest for quite some time.

"Sometimes I wish that I was dead/ 'Cause only the living can feel the pain" Pierce croons on the ebulliently orchestral bombast of Little Girl, a track that sounds a little like Robbie Williams' She's The One and a lot like a man living every day as though it were his last, hellbent on squeezing every last smidgen of emotion out from every attentive listener. The Spaceman's got the spring and vim back in his moonwalk and he's all set to transcend timeframes and frames of mind. "Sometimes your world's so full of pain/ Get so hurt inside but dry your eyes" he continues and, wearied by the world and other realms few have had the terror of touring, as his words erupt in irradiate splendour – backed of course by the glorious bellows of gospel singers – they're imbued with a sense of prophetic genius. Were this work to be considered The Gospel According to Jason now, and forever more it'd be one worth indulging in, heeding its every teaching.

Back from the brink, the subject of death is of course quite prominent throughout Sweet Heart Sweet Light although the fear of expiration is replaced by its cold-armed embrace: "You should be headin' for the top now little child/ 'Cause she'll be dancin' on your grave" he drawls on Headin' For The Top Now, the glare of the brightest of lights reflected back off pitch-dark shades searing through its emancipating, ultimately educative euphoria. That its emphatic denouement features a bastardised (again gospel) rendition of Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary – the English nursery rhyme which contentiously allegorises many a concept of Catholicism – again places Pierce back within a religious context. It's as though he's comprehended the meaning of life, ensnared its essence in sonic format and elected to enlighten: "I'm livin' my life on a prayer now" he affirms to the gloriously understated, gorgeously dulcet tones of Freedom although the mood then turns a little earnest and perhaps overly preachy as his calculatedly constant stream of consciousness dictates: "Show a little sign/ We'll get there in time/ But you don't accept that it's near/ Freedom is yours if you want it/ You just don't know what you need/ Made up my mind/ To leave you behind/ You just don't know what you feel." That Pierce has experienced something or somewhere I suppose thankfully most will evade is indeed overawing but some of said most will potentially be dissauded by this mildly intrusive, if ever-erudite message. And yet the hymnal overtones of Life Is A Problem could have the most cynical of atheists praying forgiveness from the mild discomfort of ligneous pew: like a cross-pollination of Be Thou My Vision and Janis Joplin's Mercedes Benz, Pierce pleads: "Jesus please be my automobile/ Won't get to Heaven 'less God's at the wheel/ Send me your chauffeur and I will get in/ Jesus please drive me away from my sin" as though ready for absolute redemption. For if he'd once strived to locate himself within some falsely paradisiacal state of inebriation he may now seemingly be found in some celestial place and his outpour may now be assimilated to something just so divine. If not already there, he's certainly ready for ascension if closer So Long You Pretty Thing is any valid indicator.

For musically, here to endear are the pedal tones that've rendered Pierce's cultural output quite so distinct and ultimately delightful and, this time married to hunk glam guitars, sprawling lead single Hey Jane epitomises this holy matrimony that perpetuates the LP: from the rapturous clamour of I Am What I Am to the swirling, string sectioned grandiosity of Mary (again denote religious undertone amidst the rabid husk, impenetrable toots of brass and whirrs of attentional guitar) it's as though the disparate elements of previous efforts that never quite saw eye to eye are now quite ready to gaze longingly into respective pupils and unite for the common good. For if at times Pierce's love for way-out-God-knows-where space rock and way-into-God gospel soul have clashed a little unceremoniously, Sweet Heart Sweet Light is the sound of Pierce's intentions equilibrated in a blissful state of blithe abandonment and is consequently, quite possibly, the consummate Spiritualized LP. It is, to revert to hyperbole, an epiphany.