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Sparks - Kimono My House CD (album) cover




Crossover Prog

4.11 | 95 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars You will occasionally bump into those who lament the contemporary era of music, where good musicians apparently never seem to get popular while in the 70s, apparently again, talent always came to the fore. Well, Sparks is all the proof you will ever need that that is not true. Complex and challenging music finds a limited audience at the best of times, but even with super-catchy albums like Kimono My House, Sparks are not often mentioned as one of THE bands to check out from the 70s.

And that they are, if you ask this partisan reviewer. Singer and songwriter Russell Mael says and I quote, "There was a sense that we were rapidly accelerating into the future, and we wanted to represent that. Rock seemed so old..." Tall claims, you say. Well, those are fairly reasonable claims to be made on behalf of Kimono My House.

As you proceed from Amateur Hour, through Here In Heaven to Thank God It's Not Christmas, the music of Queen and ABBA and new wave in general comes to mind. And consider that Sparks had debuted in 1971 and had a headstart over both of those more popular acts. Even in a decade where the music changed rapidly, the Sparks must have seemed like they were from a different planet. Russell lends his very Mercury-esque, eccentric vocals (or should we say Mercury sounds like Russell?) to a colourful cocktail of 50s and 60s pop and rock and roll and the British glam rock scene of the 70s, adding up to a sound that's really quite unlike anything else you'd hear from that decade.

They also avoid the respective flaws of Queen and ABBA. Where Queen favoured a pastiche approach a bit too much, Sparks treat you to a veritable conveyer belt of unpredictable, smart, tight rock. Or is it pop? Your guess is as good as the band's; studio pop is the best they can manage. As for ABBA, so much irony overflows from the music of Sparks that they are in no danger of trying too hard to please.

At least I didn't have to try too hard to like this album, at any rate. Their first rate songwriting delivers ten slabs of utterly infectious pop that have me completely at their mercy. The 36 minute long album seems to whiz past in a trice and it's time to repeat all too soon. The production could be a bit better but it hardly feels worth complaining about with songs this good.

Some cuts like Falling In Love With Myself Again take a bit longer to grab me but that's about all I can hold against this masterpiece. Sparks are sometimes called postmodern pop and they could plausibly be proclaimed as the postmodern counterpart of the Beatles. If the Beatles expanded the frontiers of pop and rock music beyond anybody's wildest imagination, Sparks offer an alternative to bland, radio-ready pop that doesn't have to involve numerous time signature changes, multiple sounds, long instrumental passages or symphonic walls of sound. Entertaining AND engaging to the core. Five stars.

rogerthat | 5/5 |


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