Hello Young Lovers - Sparks Album Review
Sparks 20th studio album Hello Young Lovers is set to raise some eyebrows. Eccentric American brothers Russell ( curly haired singer ) and Ron Mael ( the one with the Hitler moustache on keyboards ) burst onto the UK pop scene in 1974 with the weird but wonderful and unforgettable classic This Town Aint Big Enough For Both Of Us. Their witty and ever-changing musical styles have pushed the boundaries of popular music to their limits no change here. Both now into their 50s, the duo is clearly on a mission to impress a new audience. Holed up for 18 months, they have delivered an awesome piece of music how it will be received by the general public is another matter. There isnt an out-and-out pop song in sight. Nevertheless, Hello Young Lovers breaks new ground, in the Rufus Wainwright mould, combining classical and opera influences. As a commercial entity, they stopped charting in 1997 singles wise and albums even further back in 1979.
What we have now is a bold and brave attempt to be taken seriously, for once, though youd never think it with an opening track called Dick Around. My simple maths tells me that despite the critical acclaim of previous offering Lil Beethoven which failed to transfer into commercial success, theyve released twenty albums, four charted: 16 didnt.
If the bros are happy with that track record then so be it: Hello Young Lovers will do little to improve things. That said, this is a fascinating album as they break new ground with trademark quirkiness check Here Kitty. Amongst the lyrical daftness, theres some seriously great music. No doubt critics will laud this one too, but thats it, unfortunately, because it makes interesting listening. It will definitely not re-engage them with the UKs public consciousness. With a Queenesque grand opening of Dick Around were immediately thrown into the opus which takes on an overall audio ride of 51 minutes plus. Single Perfume, is possibly the worst choice to bring them back, despite being a half decent track. Elsewhere, theres a plethora of playful lyrics Baby Can I Invade Your Country, Theres No Such Thing As Aliens - lashings of strings (presumably via synths) simple guitar riffs and plenty of atmosphere. Where it all falls down is the lack of soul as parts come across as pretentious. Even Rock Rock Rock quotes the words a lack of feeling lack of conviction. Maybe its their remit to confuse us. Theres nothing rock about it whatsoever, possessing more classical overtones.
There is however, a positive and bouncy ambiance which must be applauded. Production, harmonies, musicianship etc are superb, but theyll remain a cult band for all their hard work.
Its very clever stuff, maybe too clever for the charts.
The lead single Perfume is out on Monday 13 February.
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