Sparks return with their 24th studio album and, as you would expect, it’s a fantastic, well crafted piece of work. There isn’t much one can say about Sparks that hasn’t already been covered over and over again throughout the years. Since their inception in 1967 and subsequently bursting onto the music scene in the early 70’s the Mael Brothers have been a production line of avant garde, quirky pop. Intelligent lyrics and finely crafted keyboard based sounds; more often than not complimented by fine musicianship from collaborators — indeed, there is more than a passing nod to Giorgio Moroder on the album.
The formula for the success of Sparks is followed on ‘A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip’ with them not straying too far from the stereotypical composition and it works; it still works after all this time. With this in mind this is a short review but, hopefully, with enough content to peak your interest in the album.
The vocals are the usual high standard with just enough of the trademark falsetto that we know and love. The piano and synths are always in evidence and are backed up with gusto by the sounds provided by the band.
There is a song – ‘LAWNMOWER’ – which is about the worship of a lawnmower! “My girlfriend is from Andover/She puts up with my lawnmower”. Hands up if you’ve heard a song about a lawnmower before…
‘SAINTHOOD IS NOT IN YOUR FUTURE’ is an ear worm that you think you’ve heard before but, obviously, you haven’t. The line “the Pope is on the floor laughing” surely doesn’t appear in any other song!
‘iPHONE ‘is a Sparks classic for a new generation with Adam and Eve all the way through to Steve Jobs being worthy of a mention… “Put your fucking iPhone down and listen to me”
The album ends with a plea by the ageing Mael brothers and to make their plea more passionate they have recruited a children’s choir. ‘PLEASE DON’T FUCK UP MY WORLD’ is still classic Sparks but they make it clear that the children of the future need the inhabitants of the planet to wise up.
Strangely, this is a message they tried to convey way back in time through the hugely impressive ‘NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON MTHER EARTH’… seems we still aren’t listening.
In short we are presented with a hugely enjoyable, well crafted album which has mad cap theatrical songs; idiosyncratic and intelligent compositions. Often strange but never dull.
One For The Ages’ is taken from Sparks’ upcoming 24th studio album, A STEADY DRIP, DRIP, DRIP, due on Friday, May 15th on digital platforms with the release date for CD, vinyl and cassette now set for July 3rd. Pre-orders are available now, with all pre-orders joined by ‘instant grat’ downloads of ‘One For The Ages’ and previous tracks ‘I’m Toast’, ‘Self-Effacing’ and ‘Please Don’t Fuck Up My World’. A number of formats are on offer, including CD, 2x heavyweight coloured and picture disc vinyl, and cassette; limited exclusives include signed prints, deluxe CD book editions, and a very special Sparks beret. For complete details, please visit allsparks.com.
Sparks are an amazing and engaging live band and ‘A STEADY DRIP, DRIP, DRIP’ will almost certainly lend itself to the live setting. It is an immediate album but also a grower which keeps turning up little surprises on each listen.
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The animated video by Estonian animation director Chintis Lundgren