Album Review

 I have to admit that I'm more familiar with the drink than the band, and this may outrage the die-hard fans—Sparks has one of the most fanatical followings in music history. But I do have a few of the records and I know about their appearance in that 1977 film disaster Rollercoaster, so don't get too upset. At least stateside, most people have never heard—or even heard of—Sparks, but listening to Hello Young Lovers, you realize how unique they really were. Compared to their glamorous counterparts in the '70s—Bowie, Bolan, those kind of guys—Sparks stood out for sure, but put them up against the current crop of rock bands, and they sound like they're from another planet. The Mael brothers—the driving force of the band for more than 25 years now—have bizarre-itude in spades. On opener “Dick Around” and “Rock, Rock, Rock,” they knock out their welcome signature tricks—surprise time changes, falsetto vocals and lyrics as weird as they are cool—and they really nail it on the final track, “As I Sit to Play the Organ at the Notre Dame Cathedral.” Although they sometimes plagiarize themselves, Sparks are perhaps the only band in the world that has been able to pull this off—whatever it is—so well and for so long.

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