BMG [Release date digital 15.05.20; physical 03.07.20]
There are not many artists that have been going for over fifty years and still regularly tour and release good new music, and Sparks are one of those few. Their last album, 2017’s ‘Hippopotamus’, was well received by fans and critics alike, also making the year end ‘best of’ list here on GRTR!
They have been entertaining fans during the lockdown with Ron’s insights to the songs on this album and Russell’s self-isolation videos (these are well worth watching if you haven’t already).
Ron and Russell Mael have a knack for penning catchy pop ditties and fantastic word play, none more so than on ‘Toast’ which flips between being about a man in crisis and burning toast. ‘Lawnmower’ continues this trend as the man of the piece shows more love and attention to his lawnmower than his girlfriend. The vocal backing and delivery are simply superb. They have fun too on ‘Stravinsky’s Only Hit’, a bizarre mix up of classical and quirky pop. Only Sparks could really get away with a song like this!
‘iPhone’ contains a useful piece of advice for those stuck to their phones, namely “Put your fucking iPhone down, And listen to me”. Lovely bit of synths/electronics on this one. Elsewhere, ‘Onomata Pia’ mixes vocal wizardry from Russell with a oompah band backing from Ron’s synths. Something that shouldn’t work on paper, but does when the Mael brothers put their minds to it.
Sparks do have a serious side as their plaintive plea on ‘Please Don’t Fuck Up My World’ demonstrates. A big production number, also adding in a choir and quite possibly a nearby kitchen sink…
Sparks are still making inventive and memorable tunes, which although at times off the wall and maybe not for all, those who do get into the music will be rewarded with another musical treat. Bravo! Encore! More! ****
Review by Jason Ritchie
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David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 14 March 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at www.getreadytorock.com for that week.
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Featured Albums w/c 5 April 2021 (Mon-Fri)
09:00-12:00 GARY HUGHES Decades (Frontiers)
12:00-13:00 METALITE A Virtual World (AFM Records)
14:00-16:00 KAT DANSER One Eye Open (indie)
Power Plays w/c 5 April 2021 (Mon-Fri)
ALTZI Point Of No Return (RA Music)
DIRTY LACES Breathe (Golden Robot Records)
ASHEN MOON Ashen Moon (Golden Robot Records)
ANDREWW Shadow Love (indie)
JORDAN RED Freak Show (indie)
HAYES & Y Empty Orchestra (indie)
KELSEY BOVEY Another World (indie)
NEPTUNE RAIN We Breathe The Same (indie)
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