The first twenty nights of the 21-night Sparks Spectacular in London, where they played each of their albums in chronological order, took place at the Carling Islington Academy, hence the title of this jolly choon. The district where you can ‘smell the culture’ is ironically celebrated along with a promise that ‘we’ll return to former heights.’ Fans who bought a “Golden Ticket” (which allowed entry into all 21 gigs) received a poster signed by the band and this CD single.
Rare b-side. Dependable rock groove and persistent repetition to the fore, although mixed up with a counter melody occasionally. The ’caused her twin’s delay’ line is a unique take on the ‘always in the way’ motif. Fun, but not essential.
Very modest self-appraisal going on here, although vast amounts of salt to be taken with that. It’s a steady enough tune, sprinkled with spoken parts too and a very engaging waltz at the ‘no-one ever wears a frown’ segments. The guitars blend in with the strings to make them sound orchestral. The Beach Boys type harmonies are deployed again until we reach the somewhat ominous end.
The ubiquitous phenomenon of image enhancement taken to an absurd physical dimension by imagining blotting someone out of existence using computer technology. Not a particularly original idea, but executed with élan and ‘Photoshop me out of your life’ is a good phrase. Mostly piano and massed voices, welling up with strings and a subtle chuggy guitar part in the chorus. Nice snapshot of modern interaction, no cropping required.
Magnificently simple piano plonking behind a sing song melody with some stunningly smooth Beach Boys backing bits. There’s also a suitably filmic score interlude and an equally suitable cutting rhythm. Of course, we all know how it’s going to end.
Fantastic appraisal of the Renaissance in Art after the constant anguished religious depictions of the middle ages: ‘Paintings filled with foxy women. No one’s got a cross to bear.’ Also, lovely inner argument about pronunciation: ‘Renaissance or Renai’ssance.’ The arrangement fusing orchestra and guitars emphasises the clashing of two worldviews too. So clever, and awash with killer lines, eg. ‘Gutenberg is cranking out The Bible with a centrefold.’
Sound advice for their neighbour. Such a hilarious conceit to imagine a relationship floundering because of a partner’s Morrissey obsession. ‘If only Morrissey weren’t so Morrisseyesque, she might overlook all my flaws.’ The gentle digs, include one at the Smiths’ man’s Meat Is Murder mantra: ‘my t-bone steak is at fault…pass the salt.’ The video of this is funny too, featuring dancing Morrisseys.
Defying expectations again by turning the tables and embracing the absurd. A weird mix of Cossack music and oompah pah, with that good old Danny Kaye like wordwrangling thrown in: ‘They wine you and they dine you and expect a little la-dee-dee.’ Stuff and nonsense. In a good way.
Soaring ballad full of longing and disappointment. Whether the tongue is firmly in cheek here or not is hard to discern. Poor me or irony? Who knows. Anyway, the longing is short-lived and sort of half-arsed – ‘Where’s the regretting of lurid acts that never came to be’? Whilst the filmic swirl of the music builds an engrossing soundscape, the overall effect, lyricwise, is meh.
Great urgency with wavering strings and skipping keyboards. Lyrically light-hearted. Or is it? Could be interpreted as a political analogy and probably should be, but there’s some great lines which can be taken at face value too, for the hell of it. ‘I think his license has expired, he seems to be a little wired.’ Fun rhymes.
Great stomping electro beat. The title pretty much explains it all, so no need to even touch the lyrics. A song that really needs to be played after every inane, insincere love song ever written. The only break from the arresting bloops and thumps is the occassional tinkly piano. Which is nice.
The now familiar multi-layered voices. The fast bit feels a bit forced but still exciting. Dripping with self-awareness and self-criticism. Meta, indeed: ‘This song lacks a heart, comes off overly smart. An emotional core – ain’t that what songs are for?’ Sparks are more than aware of what critics see as their supposed shortcomings and are happy to mock themselves as a strange animal.
Great wee groove powering this one along. The jaunty rhythm and ‘dooh dooh doohs’ belie it’s unsettling paranoid narrative of a slightly anxious lover who can’t really remember what happened last night and who hopes ‘it’s just your laugh that is infectious.’ Typical. You think you’re getting a breezy love song but along come the sinister undertones and creeping insecurities. As the chirpiness recedes, the self-mockery and delusion increases. ‘I need you, I need you. Who are you?’