Sparks’ latest is a feel-good pop album packed with unique, danceable, and introspective hits
Sparks has returned after an eight-year absence with their newest album Hippopotamus, and it’s a rather invigorating listen. Blending the glam rock genre with futuristic new wave, this album is all over the place and might not be for you if you’re not a fan of such alternative sounds. If you live for music that is reminiscent of a completely unique and otherworldly genre, however, then you’ve come to the right place.
Hippopotamus might not hit you the first listen through, but it’s the type of album that will certainly grow on you. The two Mael brothers have withstood the test of time, even after decades of making some of the most eclectic music together. On this album, it sounds like the band hasn’t aged a day since their earliest releases, despite being nearly 50 years into their music careers.
Embroidered with experimental effects, the album is some of the most introspective music of their career. Pairing upbeat tracks with never-ending sarcasm the brothers lace behind the lyrics, it’s the closest thing to a trip through Willy Wonka’s famous Chocolate Factory. It’s a cross between Queen and David Bowie but it still has a sound that’s completely unique from any other band. All in all, the duo created an album that sounds exactly like the soundtrack for a classic movie.
The first track, “Probably Nothing” is just that, probably nothing. It’s an intro with a dark joke that may take a moment to understand, but is certainly rewarding for those who do. The next track “Missionary Position” hilariously mocks the sexual position in the most upbeat way possible.
Following it, “Edith Pilar Said It Better” is the catchiest song thus far, taking little time to embed itself into the listener’s ear. The chorus brings to mind images of wild horses running through the fields, with the heavier soundscape similarly romping through. Put in front of the aptly titled “Scandanavian Design,” these two tracks are what draws the listener into the album. It’s a total moment of confusion that makes the listener want to go on from track to track.
The disillusionment of a marriage is somewhat of a running theme throughout Hippopotamus, with age-related metaphors as well. Packed with memorable crashing guitar riffs and quotable lyrics, the listener kind of gets a feel of what they’re getting themselves into from here on out.
The songs in the middle of the album do eventually gloss over each other, with certain elements falling on weary ears. “Giddy Giddy” and “Hippopotamus” are certified skippable, but towards the end of the album the band finds their momentum again. “I Wish You Were Fun” through “Life With The MacBeths,” wrap up the album in a neat little bow, showing what’s made Sparks such a force throughout their career.
Clocking in at 55 minutes, Hippopotamus is absolutely a feat to consider. Considering how long they’ve been around, they’ve had plenty of time to perfect their craft. Remarkably, the veterans show no fear of diving into uncharted musical waters at this point in their career, making this creation one of the more intriguing pop releases of the year thus far.