Who can honestly claim to have heard of Sparks apart from occasionally
hearing the 43rd re-recording of This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us?
These old geezers, including that one
resembling an agitated Nazi, have
been floating around since that deliciously quirky hit, but they’ve now
managed to produce Hello Young Lovers, their 20th album (out Feb 6). This
work could simply be characterised as a rag-tag collection of oddball songs.
Hello Young Lovers tracks like Dick Around and Metaphor are simply the result of eating a
pot noodle from 1990 laced with enough
Ajax to kill an elephant. The first track’s lyrical refrain is as follows: "all I do now is dick
around"; the latter opens with, "a metaphor is a glorious thing/ a
diamond ring/ a first day of summer."
Then there’s the barmy cheapness to the music. The thing is, if you
want to produce the sound of strings and baby
grand pianos, you tend to use the actual instruments. However, owing to
financial constraints, there seems a bit too
much reliance on some Casio keyboards bought from the Cash Converters
closing down sale. This tends to make the
dramatic sounding operatic tunes all the more (intentionally or
Hello Young Lovers could be classed as ‘inventive’, but it’s
inherent insanity makes it all the more
difficult to work out. Occasionally, this becomes clear on standouts
like (Baby, Baby) Can I Invade Your Country
and Rock, Rock, Rock. In the case of the former, the spoken wordplay
builds up to a chorus melody that fits into
place, making your feel your patience has actually paid off. It is at
that point you understand that you are faced
with an anthem for moustached tyrants and retarded Texan oilmen.
Overall, these elements make Hello Young Lovers wonderfully
fascinating and eccentric as Wacko Jacko on a bad day
in a hot courtroom. You’ll never quite get it, but it’s fun trying to
work out what combination of Class A drugs and
daytime TV shows Sparks have been taking/watching simultaneously.
Released on Monday: Meet.John.Doe, EP – Meet.John.Doe are a band
you’ll be hearing a lot about this year. Flicking between snappy
tunefulness and full-out apocalyptic noise, Meet.John.Doe conjure up
images of great bands like Fugazi, Hundred Reasons and Mogwai, while
sounding nothing like them, possessing – as they do – the ability to
flick between edgy, spiky pop and full-throttle screaming noise terror.
One to play loud. And often.
[main review by Jack Johnson]