Saturday, May 5, 2018

Sparks in a nutshell (updated)

In the comments section of a review of the Sparks album Exotic Creatures Of The Deep, I composed this in answer to a query of where to start with Sparks. For a pithy analysis, well, it's pithy and has enough value to put it on the blog.

1. Demos/Halfnelson/Sparks/Woofer In Tweeter's Clothing: Demented neo-psychedelic rock. Songs about incest, dating Germans and smashing into cars to meet people. Dresden Dolls fans will love some of this stuff.

2. Kimono My House/Propaganda/Indiscreet: Sparks inspires Queen, Morrissey and many others, and become glam stars in the UK. Most fans think this is their best period.

3. Big Beat/Introducing Sparks: -- poor production hampers two solid collections of tunes.

4. Number One In Heaven/Terminal Jive: Sparks invents electronica/techno/gay disco and synth-pop duos. Heaven is the most influential album no one has ever heard. Jive is a shadow of that.

5. Whomp That Sucker/Angst In My Pants/In Outer Space/Pulling Rabbits: Sparks goes New Wave, becomes KROQ stars. The first two albums are great silly fun. Outer Space goes more synth, and Rabbits is hit-or-miss.

6. Music That You Can Dance To/Interior Design: Ron and Russell build a studio. Music is somewhat experimental, yielded the brilliant "Change", but is spotty. Design has even fewer spots.

7. Gratuitous Sax/Plagiarism/Balls: Sax is a Eurodisco comeback and got them on the charts in the UK again. Very good. Plagiarism is an odd self-tribute album. Balls has its moments.

8. Lil' Beethoven/Hello Young Lovers/Exotic Creatures: Baroque minimalistic orch-pomp-pop? Beethoven was so bracing in 2002 and the Maels showed they still have it. Lovers explores the approach some more. Creatures moves the approach into a more pop direction and is awesomely catchy.

9. Seduction of Ingmar Bergman/Two Hands One Mouth:L A Swedish radio music in the style of the albums in entry number 8 above and a live album as a duo. The former is intriguing, the latter simply entertaining.

10. FFS/Hippopotamus: The Maels, with the help of Franz Ferdinand, consolidate many of the styles they've explored over the years on their rockingest LP in years, and follow that with another album of straightforward pop that brims with confidence.

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