by Rob Jones

The circle of influence is complete when it comes to Sparks. There are those original pioneers that make a mark on others and then many years on are accused of plagiarising those who stole from them!?! That is the territory of the Mael Brothers as Sparks were well ahead of the pack in their nascent days which date back to 1972 (and, in essence before). However, a new breed of lazy journalism would not pay dividends to a level of productivity that has these American aural ambassadors pressing on regardless of ageist slurs. The dynamic duo have continued to perfect pop and as innovators the lads have continued to create the future while being musical magpies and delving into genres galore (and far from the obvious) in order to create another globe of grooves.

These future heads keep it electronic but their new album ‘The girl is crying in her Latte’ offers 14 tracks that dips into a range of rhythms. One gets touches of Russell’s operatic tones as Ron clocks the beat. The feel of magnificent musicals ices a lot of the lustre and the arrangements are sometimes angular and always mellifluous.

Sparks are a truly unique force and 51 years since their inception they are still contemporary and that enterprise can never be accused of being anything apart first class Mael. The Girl Is Crying in Her Latte has the values of our existence as dealing with a never ceasing catalogue of trials and tribulations. However, when dealing with all of that distress the guys absorb the absurd and bizarre of the random process of human life. A number of the song titles indicate a slight finger point to the challenges of daily dramas e.g.: ‘Nothing Is as Good as They Say It Is’. ‘The Mona Lisa’s Packing, Leaving Late Tonight’, ‘Not that well Defined’, ‘You weren’t meant for Me’, When you Leave’, and ‘It doesn’t have to be that Way’. However, the delivery of Russell and the drive of Ron – along with the army of associates means that the lyrics can be balanced with the yin and yang. In among the assessment of the human condition we also have more perky named tunes e.g. ‘Its sunny Today’, ‘We go Dancing’ and ‘Love Story’. However, in Sparks style whatever they offer is not to be taken at face value and calls for further inspection. The word Sparks can be taken out of the letters in ‘pranksters’ and this charismatic couple know how to play the game of not being obvious and being outsiders. For it is their rules and regulations that have got them this far and even across six decades they are still not a household name but to those who need to know that group of gurus – most definitely know!

Here’s to the next half century and with these otherworldly pop professors do not rule out those logistics!