Album Review: Sparks - A Steady Drip Drip Drip

A review of pop/rock duo Spark’s 24th studio album ‘A Steady Drip Drip Drip’. Physical copies available July 3rd

By Eimear O SullivanMusicngear Editor

Article photo - Album Review: Sparks - A Steady Drip Drip Drip

Rating: 4 / 5

There is, and has never been, any other group with the imagination and fluidity of pop/rock duo Sparks. In fact, director Edgar Wright (Baby Driver, Scott Pilgrim vs The World) found them so fascinating that he is making a documentary about the enigmatic, shape shifting duo from another dimension. A Steady Drip Drip Drip flawlessly melds Spark’s signature sound, with the darkness and absurdity of a Tom Waits album; the luscious, nostalgia inducing harmonies of The Beatles; and the theatrical operatic magic of Gilbert and Sullivan, topped off with just a dash of Flight of the Conchords.

The album opens with a heavily reverberated, uneasy saxophone solo that would not be out of place in an opening scene of American Horror Story, before veering into an acoustic ballad that has a slight touch of The Beatles, overlaid with vocalist Russell Mael’s rich, layered vocals.

From here, we veer suddenly into intense glam rock territory on I’m Toast - lightly sprinkled with glimmering synths; somehow managing to be both foreboding and lighty comedic simultaneously. Another drastic shift with Lawnmower , which begins with a three piece harmony of la la las; before diving into Monty Python levels of gloriously bizarre comedy ‘You're pushin' on your lawnmower, lawnmower, Your lawn will be a showstopper, showstopper,Your lawn will be a jaw-dropper, jaw-dropper’.

It is around here that the Gilbert and Sullivan influences begin; accompanied by Tom Waits levels of dark, manic tonal shifts. Stravinsky's Only Hit’s opening bars fool the listener into thinking that arpeggiated synth infused mania awaits them; only to be presented with a joyous Gilbert and Sullivan number - ‘Stravinsky’s only smash, He didn’t need the cash’ which would not be out of place on Broadway. Incidentally - they have written a musical film called Annette, which stars Adam Driver and Marion Cotillard, and is directed by acclaimed director Leos Carax (Holy Motors, Boy Meets Girl) which is currently in production. 

Left Out in the Cold is an upbeat, intense affair with manic piano and guitars, as is Self-Effacing. One for the Ages ramps up the operatic dramatics to 9000, accompanied by soaring strings. 

iPhone at first appears to take a similar direction to these previous tracks; opening with powerful piano chords - only to suddenly dissolve into robotic, Sci- Fi synthesizer madness. Put your fucking iphone down and listen to me it demands, with power rock chords pulsating ferociously in the background.

We return to theatrical musical influences with The Existential Thread and Nothing Travels Faster Than The Speed of Light.

The album ends with the hauntingly beautiful ‘Please Don’t Fuck Up My World’, which reaches Beatle’s level of nostalgia; managing to sound like it has been part of the  memories of thousand for decadess. Soaring strings, a glorious percussion section, piano, layered harmonies which rises into a glorious, heart wrenching crescendo, leaving us with the parting chorus line of ‘Please Don’t Fuck Up Our World’


Conclusion

A Steady Drip Drip Drip’ is an electrifying, magical journey that goes from one end of music to the other; this album could very well re-ignite the imagination you had as a child; and remind you of the full unbridled freedom that can come with creativity. 

Must listens: Lawnmower, iPhone, Please Don’t Fuck Up My World


PRE ORDER physical copies HERE, available July 3rd


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About Eimear O Sullivan

Eimear Ann O Sullivan is a multi-genre music producer, audio engineer and vocalist. After receiving a Masters in Music Technology from the CIT Cork School of Music, she went on to operate as a producer under the name Blakkheart. Her releases have received critical acclaim from Ireland's biggest music publications, such as District Magazine and Nialler9, alongside receiving heavy commercial radio airplay. She currently works in Cork recording studio Flashpoint CC. Previous clients of hers include the likes of Comedy Central’s Dragony Aunt star Candy Warhol, rapper Darce and Outsider YP. (Photo credit @Fabian Boros)

Contact Eimear O Sullivan at eimear.o.sullivan@musicngear.com

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