Sparks Steers Clear Of Convention On New CD
Eccentric sibling duo Sparks has always dared to be different, and its off-kilter charms are on full display on its new album, "Hello Young Lovers."Eccentric sibling duo Sparks has always dared to be different, and its off-kilter charms are on full display on its new album, "Hello Young Lovers." The set is due Feb. 6 in the United Kingdom via Gut Records; a North American licensing deal is still being negotiated.
Preceding the 10-track set will be the single "Dick Around," which will be commercially released Jan. 30 in the United Kingdom. "If the public were only allowed to hear one song from the new album, I have no doubt that 'Dick Around' would be the one selected to best encapsulate the spirit and scope of our new work," Sparks' Ron Mael tells Billboard.com. "It's bold, audacious and non-formulaic. Though the album version is over six minutes long, we found a way to edit the piece to a single length so that it could take on its own life and not be glossed over by radio simply because of its length. We like the fact that if someone only hears the single edit, they will be surprised to hear the numerous other sections which are on the album version."
Although Sparks has enjoyed its biggest success in the United Kingdom (to where the U.S.-born Maels once relocated), "Hello Young Lovers" took shape in the brothers' native Los Angeles. "We wanted to preserve the spirit of non-convention that we hinted at with [2002's] 'Lil' Beethoven,' but take things miles further," Ron says. "Again, we wanted to steer clear of the pop conventions that for us now sound archaic. We explored other ways to structure songs that aren't simply verse/chorus/bridge. We also explored ways to not always work in standard pop music instrumentation."
"Yet for all the eccentricity, we still feel the album is very much centered in the spirit of pop music," he continues, "at least the way we think pop music should sound. 'Dick Around' and 'When I Sit Down To Play the Organ at the Notre Dame Cathedral' are both longer pieces that don't bear much relationship to the current climate in pop music. And even a song that is at once very accessible, 'Waterproof,' still plays with the accepted structures of pop music."
The oft-predictable state of modern day rock wound up serving as an inspiration for pushing the boundaries on Sparks' latest. "Part of the reason one sets out to do an album like 'Hello Young Lovers' is in reaction to what one hears in the current climate of pop music," Ron says. "We've taken up the challenge to push things further in pop music. We don't hear much of a sense of ambition or adventure -- that's why we did this album."
According to Mael, fans of bizarre Sparks classics like "The No. 1 Song in Heaven" and "This Town Ain't Big Enough for the Both of Us" should enjoy the new release. "We are very proud of 'Hello Young Lovers,' and feel that it is musically as daring as any of the earlier Sparks albums were at their release," he says.
Sparks will begin a world tour early next year, which will include U.K. dates in February and visits to Japan, Australia and the United States.
Here is the track list for "Hello Young Lovers":
"The Very Next Fight"
"(Baby Baby) Can I Invade Your Country?"
"Rock, Rock, Rock"
"There's No Such Thing As Aliens"
"When I Sit Down To Play the Organ at the Notre Dame Cathedral"