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Sparks - Propaganda CD (album) cover

PROPAGANDA

Sparks

 

Crossover Prog

3.89 | 37 ratings

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rogerthat
5 stars This website must be one of the few places on Planet Internet where Propaganda is rated somewhat higher than Kimono My House. If you were to listen to George Starostin, Mark Prindle or other venerable internet music reviewers who helped spread the word about this underrated band, Propaganda is a marked step down from Kimono My House.

Really? Personally, I don't hear it. If Propaganda is a step down, then a step up would have probably cracked the sky. Maybe it is just disbelief over the ability of a band to defy the infamous sophomore syndrome and deliver another blockbuster. But then when have Sparks ever been like other mortals. I wouldn't dare complain when I am showered with so many goodies all at once (at least, that's what it feels like). It may or may not be as good as Kimono, but it can't get much better than this at any rate.

Sparks have, by their own admission, operated in isolation, feeling disdain for going trends in music but allowing those to creep into their work even as they influenced future trends in music. Perhaps it is this isolation that saved them from sophomore syndrome (or, maybe the simple fact that Propaganda was actually their fourth album!). They did not try to either imitate or completely move away from the formula of Kimono My House. They just remained true to their inspiration and released the resulting album on an unsuspecting public.

Propaganda, like Kimono My House, is another album of weird, complex pop-rock on steroids. Right from At Home, At Work, At Play, Sparks set a frenetic pace. Rather than hope for a let up, you'd best fasten your seat belts for a rollercoaster ride (wherein your car threatens to fly off the tracks!).

Because if you thought This Town Ain't Big Enough for The Both of Us was impossibly fast and chaotic, wait till you hear Don't Leave Me Alone With Her. Russell Mael seemingly spits off words at a speed that smashes the sound barrier to smithereens. But wait, he isn't just speed rapping like Tom Araya or even Rob Halford on Freewheel Burning. He's actually rendering a melody! I have never had the chance to see this unique band live and haven't watched much live footage of theirs either. How do I know this is for real and isn't simply sped-up-in-the-recording stuff. Even if it is the latter, though, the effect is paramount here; it's both stunning and hilarious. The chorus of said track, ironically, is more reasonably paced, anthemic even...if words like "Don't Leave Me Alone With Her" can be described as anthemic in the conventional sense of the word.

As they did on Kimono, brothers Ron and Russell Mael continue to turn rock and pop stereotypes upside down with amusing results, to say the least. It's almost as if they were bored of whatever was playing on the radio (I know, we are talking about the 70s, right?) and decided to twist it out of shape as much as they could and clapped their hands in delight at the results. There are also the Queen-before-Queen-really-hit-the-bigtime tracks like Reinforcements (did I mention, again, that Freddie Mercury, the much celebrated and decorated one, sounds like Russell Mael and not the other way round). Were Queen just in the right place at the right time, hogging some of the credit that Sparks deserved? Answer: who cares...even if they came afterwards, Queen simply couldn't master weird-pop like Sparks. But then, who has - Sparks move in their own orbit, unafraid to embrace eccentricity when it confronts them in their musical journey (rather than trying to be weird for the sake of it).

I could write a para for most of the other tracks to describe their delights but that would only serve to spoil the fun. I could give you a general idea of what it sounds like but the whole point of listening to Sparks is NOT to be aware of what's going to hit you when you hear it. If such an idea makes you apprehensive, a band as twisted as Sparks is probably not meant for your tastes anyway.

There are one or two tracks on this album like B.C. that I don't really listen to very often. But some reviewers seem to be fond of it. While I absolutely love Who Don't Like Kids, which not all reviewers endorse. That is, there aren't really any bad tracks on this album, just tracks my mind hasn't managed to embrace yet. 5 stars for yet another masterpiece from the Sparks-genre.

rogerthat | 5/5 |

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