Click here for home page

Click here

Contact Us | Customer Information | Privacy Policy | Audio Help

Main Menu
Submit a review
Album Reviews
Book Reviews
DVD Reviews
Sign up for newsletter
Get Your EMail Address
Submit your website
SPARKS Exotic Creatures Of The Deep
Lil Beethoven Records LBRCD111 (2008)


It's a measure of Spark's longevity that back in the early 70's they were compared to Queen. Three and a half decades on, their new album 'Exotic Creatures of the Deep' suggests they are still at the forefront of art rock as an enduring potent creative force that few of their contemporaries can match.

'Exotic Creatures of the Deep' is best understood in the context of their last two albums 'Lil Beethoven', and 'Hello Young Lovers', being full of the same catchy repeated choruses and the startling trademark falsetto and spoken word delivery of Russell Mael, allied with some complex arrangements that bring out every nuance of brother Ron's lyrics. And while 'Exotic Creatures' doesn't quite match the best moments of 'Young Lovers' it does include Sparks' best single for years 'Good Morning'.

Other highlights include the humorous 'Lighten Up Morrissey' and the magnificent world play of 'This is the Renaissance'. The latter is one of Ron Mael's very best efforts with a musical reference, 'Music's gone wild, No Gregorian here, Contrapuntal music is the music your parents fear' that could almost be about the band themselves.

Sparks music works so well precisely because of the curious blend of eclectic lyrics and musical tensions. Russell's vocal variations make the most of the material that on 'Strange Animal' (a possible reference to us all being the 'Exotic Creatures' of the title) places him at the centre of a vocal collage and repeated chorus. Most of the lyrics appear to be little stories or reflections on curious characters, ranging from the elderly libertine of 'Good Morning' to the porn star of 'The Director Never Yelled Cut' and the rejected lover who gets unfavourably compared to Morrissey on 'Lighten Up Morrissey'.

There's also a relationship song on the metaphoric 'Photoshop' which is built on a jaunty descending piano line and some beautifully arranged orchestration. Many of the songs comprise repeated choruses that recall Gilbert & Sullivan along with layered voices, startling tempo changes and a juxtaposition of vocals and instrumental elements.

The songs seem like pieces in a jigsaw with interconnecting elements including a thrice repeated Beatles style (think 'Sun King') harmony line that provides the intro and outro to the album.

Not everything is totally convincing however, with the cynical 'I Can't Believe That You Could Fall For All That Crap In This Song' being a return to their synth driven electro pop while the cod disco beat and portentous piano line of 'Let The Monkey Drive' brings a sense of B Movie menace to lyrics that without the benefit of such a context might be considered just throwaway.

But the album ends on a high with the superbly scored, stop and start endpiece 'Likeable' which segues into a coda of the intro theme. Sparks are nothing if not creative risk takers and 'Exotic Creatures of the Deep' will surely delight even the most jaded musical palate.


Review by Pete Feenstra


Best of 2008

Print this page in printer friendly format

Print this page in printer-friendly format

Tell a friend about this page

Tell a friend about this page

***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

get ready to rock is a division of hotdigitsnewmedia group

Featured Artists
Artist Archive
Featured Labels
Label Archive
Do you want to appear here?