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Electronic - Verschenen op 15 november 2019 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

Onderscheidingen 4F de Télérama
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Pop - Verschenen op 8 november 2019 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

Onderscheidingen 4F de Télérama
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Originele soundtracks - Verschenen op 2 juli 2021 | Milan

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Pop - Verschenen op 15 mei 2020 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Limited

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For over fifty years, the Mael brothers Ron (the one with the moustache) and Russell (the one with the shaggy hair) have been writing sophisticated baroque-pop songs that border on kitsch. Sparks are one of those bands who were never really popular with the general public but have been greatly admired by many famous musicians. Their reputation seems to traverse all styles and genres, from Depeche Mode, Björk, New Order and Kurt Cobain through to The Smiths, Siouxsie and the Banshees and Sonic Youth, not to mention the kooky Franz Ferdinand with whom Sparks recorded an album entitled FFS (for Franz Ferdinand Sparks). This 24th album, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip, is equally as brilliant as its predecessors. It features fourteen synthetic pop tracks and is surprisingly contemporary for a duo of brothers who are both over the age of seventy. As ever, the pair inject humour into their music with tracks like iPhone (“Put your fucking iPhone down and listen to me…”) and Lawnmower (about a “showstopping” lawnmower) but the album ends on a more touching song with choral vocal effects, entitled Please Don’t Fuck Up My World, in which the gravity of their message comes through the seemingly lighthearted music. This is the perfect album to listen whilst waiting for the release of Sparks’ musical comedy directed by Leos Carax, which is out soon. © Yan Céh/Qobuz
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Pop - Verschenen op 2 maart 1979 | Lil Beethoven Records

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Alternative en Indie - Verschenen op 1 januari 2008 | UMC (Universal Music Catalogue)

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Pop - Verschenen op 8 september 2017 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

De broers Ron en Russell Mael zijn onder naam Sparks al sinds 1972 actief. De laatste jaren waren ze een beetje uit beeld verdwenen, maar met het album Hippopotamus maken ze in 2017 een triomfantelijke comeback. Het 23ste studioalbum van de Amerikanen draait net als zijn voorgangers om eigenzinnige artrock en krijgt uitstekende recensies. © TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 24 november 2013 | Lil Beethoven Records

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Pop - Verschenen op 1 januari 1990 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Verschenen op 26 november 2002 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

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Pop - Verschenen op 11 augustus 2008 | Rhino

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Pop - Verschenen op 1 maart 2006 | Lil Beethoven Records

Why it is that after years or even decades some artists continue to thrill and entertain while others just burn out badly is one of those great mysteries, but in the example of Ron and Russell Mael, aka Sparks, they're firmly in the former category. Hello Young Lovers is their 20th studio album in 35 years, not to mention one of their best. Following on from their enjoyable all-classical instrumentation experiment, Lil' Beethoven, Sparks take their cue here from the album's one song that added full rock band instrumentation to all the strings, "Ugly Guys with Beautiful Girls." The resulting fusion on Hello Young Lovers -- with the brothers and drummer Tammy Glover now accompanied full-time by former touring guitarist Dean Menta, along with Redd Kross' Steve McDonald guesting on bass and Jim Wilson on guitar -- audibly harks back to the U.K. glam era of the band but crucially does not simply replicate it. Instead, it's as close to a full mélange of all the band's various sounds thus far over the years, as Lil' Beethoven's orchestral swoops are shot through with feedback and subtler hints of the various dance incarnations of the duo. Opening track "Dick Around," with its rapidly ascending and descending melodies, absolutely precise performance (Russell's voice continues to be one of the best ever in the field while Ron's ear for immediate but busy-as-heck hooks similarly hasn't gone stale), and back-and-forth arrangements between strings and guitar is a tour de force on its own, not to mention showing that the trademark Mael misanthropic wit remains fully intact. From there, Hello Young Lovers is off to the races, with only a tiny misstep or two along the way ("Here Kitty" is cute but slight, "Metaphor" takes a while to connect fully). First single "Perfume" is a delight, a finger-snapping swing of a song that's still very 21st century, with a classic Russell spoken word break to boot. Other highlights include the outrageous "(Baby Baby) Can I Invade Your Country?," a reworking of the American national anthem that turns into the slyest post-9/11 song yet, and the stellar conclusion "When I Sit Down to the Play the Organ in the Notre Dame Cathedral." "Waterproof" might be the best song in the end, Russell singing like butter couldn't melt in his mouth about being a merrily heartless bastard untroubled by his former love's "Meryl Streep mimicry" while the sound moves from chamber music to a hint of '30s jazz to a full rock-out apocalypse. If, as is often alleged, Queen ripped off Sparks to fully kick-start their own career, Hello Young Lovers is Sparks having the last and best laugh, not just on their former rivals but on all those bands now and then whose members may have listened in but never showed even a tenth of the Maels' genius and inspiration. © Ned Raggett /TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 11 augustus 2008 | Rhino

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Pop - Verschenen op 1 oktober 1975 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

In the '70s and '80s, Sparks' American fans couldn't understand why the Mael Brothers weren't as big in the United States as they were in England. "Why don't more of our fellow Americans realize just how great these guys are?" was the question that Sparks addicts in the U.S. often found themselves asking. Whatever the reason, British audiences really connected with Sparks' goofy, insanely clever lyrics -- and the fact that Russell Mael sings like he could be an eccentric upper-class Englishman (although he was born and raised in Los Angeles) probably didn't hurt. Indiscreet, which was the Mael Brothers' third album for Island and their fifth album overall, is state-of-the-art Sparks. The power pop melodies are consistently infectious, and the lyrics are as humorous as one expects Sparks lyrics to be -- nutty gems like "Pineapple," "Happy Hunting Ground," "Tits," and "Get in the Swing" will easily appeal to those who like to think of Russell and Ron Mael as the pop/rock equivalent of Monty Python's Flying Circus. Like other Sparks releases of the '70s, Indiscreet did much better in England than it did on the North American side of the Atlantic. In the U.S., this 1975 LP appealed to a small but enthusiastic cult following -- in Great Britain, Indiscreet was a big seller and appealed to a much larger and broader audience. Over the years, Sparks has experimented with everything from hard rock to Euro-disco. But power pop is the primary focus of Indiscreet, which went down in history as one of the band's best '70s albums. © Alex Henderson /TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 1 januari 1997 | BMG Rights Management (UK) Ltd

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Pop - Verschenen op 29 maart 1982 | Lil Beethoven Records

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Pop - Verschenen op 1 oktober 1976 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Most of this album finds Sparks doing what they do best: spewing out clever, mile-a-minute lyrics over solid-rocking accompaniment (this time, provided by a superior group of studio musicians). Drummer Hilly Michaels and guitarist Jeffrey Salen lend the Mael brothers' songs considerable rock & roll authority. Standouts include the opening blast, "Big Boy" (which was featured in the film Rollercoaster), the propulsive "Fill-Er-Up," and the falsetto-delivered proclamation "I Like Girls," apparently a leftover from their previous album, Indiscreet. Generally, however, they eschew the elaborate arrangements of Indiscreet and go for a powerful, stripped-down sound. As titles such as "Everybody's Stupid" and "Thrown Her Away (And Get a New One)" suggest, the album brims with decidedly politically incorrect (and often hilarious) lyrics. © James A. Gardner /TiVo
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Pop - Verschenen op 1 januari 1974 | Universal-Island Records Ltd.

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Pop - Verschenen op 28 januari 1980 | Lil Beethoven Records

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Pop - Verschenen op 1 november 1974 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

What better way to promote Sparks' spinning blender of demented pop than Propaganda? The band's fourth album (and second with producer Muff Winwood) is chock-full of great ideas, including the overseas hits "Something for the Girl With Everything" and "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth." With Russell Mael delivering the lyrics in his rapid-fire falsetto, the lyric sheet is a necessary compass, as the clever wordplay is a key to discovering what these pranksters are up to. Ron Mael's skewed take on relationships ("At Home, at Work, at Play," "Don't Leave Me Alone With Her") are nearly upstaged by the hyperactive arrangements, but when the words and the music click, it's pure magic. In fact, "Bon Voyage" might be the most sublime song they've ever written, teetering between genuine pathos for and lampooning of the plight of those left behind by Noah and his ark. Other highlights include "Achoo" (about, you guessed it, catching a cold) and "Who Don't Like Kids," in which Mael uncorks the opening lines "You got a cigar, here's a couple more/Because the offspring are springing through swinging doors" in a few seconds. The torrential outpouring of words and ideas, underscored by guitars and keyboards with oft-shifting rhythms, either repels or attracts listeners. Though the similarities to Queen are sometimes striking, they eschew that band's seriousness and epic guitar work, favoring hit-or-miss observations that suggest a cross between 10cc and the power pop of the late '70s. Propaganda remains one of Sparks' brightest achievements, brimming with a loopy charm that continued to captivate the open-minded English listeners, if not their close-minded countrymen in the U.S. [Note that European CD reissues in the late '90s include non-album B-sides from the record's two U.K. singles as bonus tracks: "Alabamy Right" and "Marry Me."] © Dave Connolly /TiVo