It’s like this, I guess. Until about a month ago, I only knew about two Sparks songs. One of them was the one everyone knows, and that was only because Faith No More does a version of it.
But (and we’re getting to the crux of the matter, don’t stress, this is like the foreplay) you know those people whom you trust when they tell you something is ace? Well, one of them in my life considers Sparks as his favorite band, and they were playing a show not far from me. Like Homer said on The Simpsons once, money can be exchanged for goods and services, so off we go.
And Sparks were great. They were fun, unique, and frankly, crackers. However, there was a rather large elephant in the room: they had just released a new album and played a lot of it.
That new album is this, and if Ron and Russell like it enough to play six songs from it, it’s gotta be worth listening to, right?
Well, yes, actually. “The Girl Who’s Crying In Her Latte” is superb.
Consider that the end of the foreplay; this is getting down to business, which Sparks do with the title track.
“A high-energy, romping track that takes you on a journey through a coffee shop, fueled by imagination—Ron’s imagination. Be afraid.”
Sparks showcase their unique ability to create unsettling sounds with “Veronica Lake.” The track immerses you in a world of sonic unease, leaving you captivated by its mysterious allure.
“Nothing Is As Good As They Say It Is” takes an unexpected turn, presenting a baby’s view of the world. But amidst the unconventional perspective, the song features an incredible guitar solo that demands attention and adds a touch of brilliance to the album.
“Escalator” offers a moment akin to stepping into a world of sliding doors. The song encapsulates the feeling of uncertainty and the possibilities that lie behind each choice we make.
“Mona Lisa’s Packing, Leaving Later Tonight” is a shining gem on the album, an off-kilter masterpiece perfectly matched with its music. Sparks’ unique blend of quirkiness and musical prowess shines through.
“You Were Meant For Me” initially presents itself as a simple love song, but Sparks quickly subvert expectations. The lyrics reveal a twist, as she rejects the protagonist’s advances. It’s a reminder that life is never as straightforward as we hope it to be.
“Not That Well Defined” showcases the album’s versatility, with strings giving the track a distinct character. Sparks effortlessly weave their magic, adding depth and texture to an already rich collection of songs.
“We Go Dancing” takes a delightfully dark turn, resembling a nursery rhyme set in the depths of hell. It’s a testament to Sparks’ ability to create hauntingly captivating melodies that stay with you long after the song has ended.
“When You Leave” introduces a defiant tone, as the protagonist vows to stay just to annoy others. The track adds an element of rebelliousness, injecting a dose of attitude into the album.
“Take Me For A Ride” stands out with its unique harmonies that defy expectations. Sparks dare to push boundaries and challenge conventional musical norms, delivering a truly distinct experience.
With “It’s Sunny Today,” Sparks venture into uncharted territory, offering a tune that sounds unlike anything you’d expect from the Beach Boys. This is not your typical spring break anthem.
“A Love Story” delves into the realms of personal relationships, revealing the protagonist’s willingness to go to great lengths for someone they care about. Let’s just say it won’t be featured on too many Hallmark cards.
“It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way” channels a Beatles-esque vibe, thanks to the beautiful strings that infuse the track with a touch of nostalgia.
Finally, the album culminates, as the gigs did (or the main set, at any rate), with “Gee, That Was Fun,” a perfect ending that encapsulates the spirit of the entire album. It’s a song brimming with crazy harmonies and clever lyrics
This is their 26th album. They’ve been making music for over 50 years. Just let that sink in as you consider the glory of this. Imagine having this many ideas! There are those people who have “You don’t have to be mad to work here, but it helps” mugs on their desks and describe themselves as “wacky.” Those people are to be avoided at all costs. Then there are those people who genuinely, truly see the world differently. They’re called geniuses. Sparks are the latter.