Hello Young Lovers
In The Red 2006


If you find Sparks too annoyingly goofy for your personal taste, keep walking. But if you’re a fan of Sparks, their twentieth album, Hello Young Lovers, is just about as complex, fun, and catchy as anything they’ve ever done. Combining the symphonic bent of 2002’s Li’l Beethoven, adding vocals, and adding a little thud from Red Kross bassist Steve McDonald and rock guitarists Dean Menta (Faith No More) and Jim Wilson (Rollins Band), this thing is one big fat giddy nitrous hit. The addition of the rock players to the composed operatic base harkens back to their early 1970s classic period. But don’t get me wrong, this isn’t Sparks going backwards – Hello Young Lovers is a contemporary record that’s clearly of our times but informed by the band’s public trial and error since 1971 – including their syth-pop and disco phases but focusing on their earliest, glam, and latest, orchestral.

The opener, “Dick Around,” reminds you where Queen’s inspiration, particularly on A Night at the Opera, comes from in the first place – gazillions of parts and harmonies, dense operatic vocal arrangements, sparse paino-based breaks, and giant heavy metal crescendos. The irony is that this song about getting nothing done is quite an involved accomplishment. My favorite here, the repetitive synth-based build of “Perfume” will remind you of the bounce of their early 1980s pop songs. The lyrics are a list that matches the names of girls with their perfumes of choice – followed by “that’s why I want to spend my life with you.” I hope they get some cash when this is in an ad for a fragrance store. “The Very Next Fight” is a baroque piano-based number revolving around anger management (“some idiot’s staring at you legs I know/You try to tell me I should let it go/but how can I let it go when I can’t control myself”). “(Baby Baby) Can I Invade Your Country” is a spectacular pop number whose riff harkens back to Jacko’s “Black and White” and is of course an innuendo (“my favorite Beatle’s always been Ringo/the least outspoken/the apolitical one."). Another of the best is “Metaphor” (chicks dig/D-I-G/metaphors/use them wisely/use them well/and you’ll never know the well… of loneliness) - which, after opening with pianos, acoustic guitar, and vocal harmony, explodes into pure Devo, before descending into huge orchestral hard rock and winding down with acoustic guitars and strings.

“Hello Young Lovers” is quite an event and a reminder that no one has ever been at once so gleefully stupid and smart, jaded and enthusiastic. Sparks has created some of the most serious music that’s ever refused to take itself seriously. Admit it, you hate ‘em…




© New York Night Train , 2006