Album: Li'l Beethoven
Appears On (Mixes): Dub Club: Matt's 2005 Best Of -- Streets Named For New England Trees
Song Notes: I've been sort of slowly immersed in Sparks for a while now. Aila adores them, and for a long time, I resisted. At first, I didn't quite get it—the first album I'd heard was In Outer Space, which had its moments, but was a bit too cheesy for me (at least then), and I couldn't get my head around Russell Mael's frequently-falsetto vocals. But driving around with her, I'd hear more and more. I found myself liking more and more, but still not really being sold on Sparks being all that great. (After all, they were the source of David Kendrick, who did the sub-par drumming on the last few DEVO records.) The beginning of Sparks-fandom came from hearing a couple songs on their MySpace page -- "The Rhythm Thief", which was OK, and "Suburban Homeboy", which I really liked. Around that time, she got the Li'l Beethoven: Live In Stockholm DVD, and I watched the first half (the album half) with her—the first few tracks, I wasn't really that into. I didn't get why all the tracks were so repetitive, and it was in danger of losing me. She got me to stick with it, and after a while, this song came up—and it CLICKED. This song is OUTSTANDINGLY GOOD. And it was the song that explained the whole Sparks thing to me. And I realized then that I really loved Sparks. And right now, in fact, I'm listening to my brand-new copy of In Outer Space, and I'm enjoying it and I understand it all now (though I still think Whomp That Sucker from the same era is the superior record). It has all become clear.
Anyway, though—this song. I love the way there's the layered vocals and the piano line, but what makes this song—the recitation. And I realize that "Wow, the recitation makes this song!" is not something you ever hear, as, well, they typically ruin songs (or, on the off chance that they save a song that's not this one, it's by taking a mediocre-to-crappy song to a hilarious, awful plane that makes the song listenable by being so over the top—see "You Look So Good In Love" by George Strait, for example) -- but in here, it works. The combination of the beautiful, profound turns of phrase (I love "As we walk through the morning rain / And the skies are clearing / And the streets are glistening / Streets named for New England trees") combined with the hilarious pseudo-pretentious-pomposity-puncturing lines like "A rainbow forms / But we're both colorblind / But we can hear what others can't hear / We can hear the sound of a chorus singing", just makes this song so absolutely perfect, I feel I've got to share it with you, so hopefully you can bypass that whole "Sparks? They're OK, but they kind of suck with the whole weird operatic thing where, what, are they some sort of comedy band or what?" phase. Because they're really, really brilliantly good, and it took this song to show me that. So here it is. -Rev. Syung Myung Me