2018 – 2020
Solid structure of verse building up to a catchy chorus backed by powerful strings and synths. Tight and methodical, but a fabulous tune. The keyboard break keeps you interested and alert. Yet another triumph. There really is no filler on this album at all. A genuine masterpiece. Again.
High speed shuffle jazz with drum rolls and woodwind. Capturing the zeitgeist once more with a claustrophobic urgency which makes me anxious. In a good/ trepidatious way. In short, encapsulating the whole essence of existentialism in a pop song. Absolutely packed wth lyrical gems, such as ‘Quagmire here, quagmire there’ and ‘Sartre and Camus seemed to understand something close to what I’m feeling. Though they were in France.’ Exceptional.
Funky and filthy. ‘Put your fucking iPhone down and listen to me.’ A perfect blend of guitar/synth/piano. So anthemic it’s ridiculous. Strident stuff. The simmering anger bubbles through but still makes you laugh. And it really rocks.
Classic Sparks wordplay with “Oohs and ahs” and oom pah pahs. A whiff of Suburban Home Boy about it. The harmonies are delicious as it progresses, s are the def diversions from the maiin tune. And, obviously, as befits a song based on a grammatical pun, the lyrics are a treat: “Learning disorder or fantastic skill? I lean quite heavily on skill.”
Bouncy acoustic beat throughout with latin type vibes. This has hit single written all over it. No real divergence from the main thrust of the song, unusually, but that’s a good thing in this case. Warm and sumptuous.
A fantastically quirky and jumpy blast of nerve jangling stabs, much like Stravinsky’s own controversial Last Rites of Spring. The kind of urgent pop Sparks excel at. They’re also aware that, like Igor, they musn’t “overdo it, pal.” Strong feeling of empathy with “Dancefloor Igor” who “shunned all the party people” from Ron here.
It’s grandiose mode Sparks time. A beautifully dreamy arrangement drifting smoothly around your speakers/headphones. Contains snippets of poignantly apt definitions of the actual Sparks listening experience eg. “our inconsistency is our consistency” and a reminder of their never-ending innovatory work ethic and refusal to fall back on nostalgia and safe ground: “and we’re never going back.” Also, the repetition of “at all” sounds a little Irish.
More excellent shuffling and na na nas. Has to be played loud to let the singalong title line fully worm its way into your brain. The subject matter suggests wild living may not see you through Heaven’s gate with some fun lines like “The Pope is on the floor laughing” and the baffling “Cheer up, you may just win a Bafta.”
Insanely catchy with daft rhymes and la la las. Just shows how Sparks love producing mad, infectious pop songs whilst living on (to quote Shane Lowther on YouTube) “the cutting edge of music.” The video (homemade by Ron no less) has an informative intro by the man himself on the history of the lawnmower.
Quietly edging into A Steady Drip Drip Drip and, befitting the album’s title, acoustic guitars and claps steadily branch out into sumptious layers of instruments. A sort of taking stock and a calm reflection on all that’s been done, won and lost over the years. Sweet and enchanting opener setting the mood for the strain of melancholia washing through this album.
A subtle grower with just a whiff of “When Do I Get To Sing ‘My Way’?” about it, both in subject matter and feel. It’s the age old story, funnily enough, of the shy guy in accountancy fantasising about his literary masterpiece and subsequent acclaim. Lacks a bit of intensity, build up and diversity, but a compelling tune nevertheless.
In this age of CORVID-19, this came into our lives out of the blue. Unexpectedly apt but morbidly hilarious. The dirty crunchy guitars and oh so catchy and deceptively simple melodies carry you along until the fabulous ‘ba ba ba babum’ sections. Initially, it feels a little downbeat, but the more you play it, the merrier it gets. ‘Alexa, get me out of this place’ indeed.
The latest glimpse into this year’s album, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip – out May 15th. Total bouncer with a touch of old seventies Sparks mixed in. Na na na chorusing to boot. Overdoing the self-effacing is the joke here, with a litany of faux modesty such as, ‘I’m less a Rolls Royce and more minivan.’
The first glimpse into the new album, and a sombre one it is. Released just before Christmas 2019, it’s sobering message is a timely reflection on the downward spiralling mess we all feel a part of. Complete with orchestral interlude and children’s chorus, there’s no getting away from the fact that even Sparks can feel the chill running through the world, both environmentally and politically. Great melody though!
From the soundtrack to the film ‘Damsel.’ ‘My heart is heavy now…” Very short, mostly a capella song of leaving, culminating in some yearning yodelling, with strings fading in towards the end as the voice fades out. Awwww.