In what comes forth as Spinal Tap meets Queen, the opening track to “Hello Young Lovers” is an interesting opening, especially to those listeners that have not had the luck to hear Sparks in the past. In a sense (as someone that was not even alive when Sparks started their career), I would have to say that Sparks must have had a great influence on They Might Be Giants. There seems to be that same jocular style in their music and eclectic style that will easily put a smile to a listener’s face, whether it is in a laugh or just enjoyment.
There also seems to be some unity between Sparks and the Pet Shop Boys in the same dryly-spoken vocals (especially present in “The Very Next Fight”), but again, it needs to be said that Sparks were most likely the progenitors of the genre. The presence of horns during “(Baby Baby) Can I Invade Your Country” gives the track a very regal type of sound, which is only magnified by the use of the Star-Spangled Banner throughout the track. In another sense, the dual vocals that fight each other during the track really mirror the real life fight between America and the British crown. The entire disc has an incredible cohesion to it that really seems more like separate vignettes in a collection of an author’s stories; the majority of tracks on “Hello Young Lovers” are so over the top that they cannot be not correlated to each other. Through all of the songs on “Hello Young Lovers”, there still is a devotion to impressive arrangements and orchestral backdrops that will invite listeners in to a trap that they can never escape. At fifty minutes, this is not an album that departs from a listener’s mind quietly or quickly; the strains of “Metaphor” will be bouncing around all minds for a long time after the disc ends.
Sparks come through with an album in “Hello Young Lovers” that really does not show a band that has hit a wall; unlike individuals like The Rolling Stones, Sparks is active and thriving in 2006. This album is a necessary purchase because it has single-handedly influenced all sorts of individuals from Atom and his Package to the aforementioned Pet Shop Boys. A disc of hits, and this is not anything that even will resemble the band’s greatest hits; Sparks throws down the gauntlet and beckons current acts like The Darkness to do one better.
Top Tracks: The Very Next Fight, Metaphor