beat_SparksTheRescue_main
LIGHTING UP Sparks the Rescue.

If there were those who thought Sparks the Rescue got a little too saccharine on their label debut, Eyes to the Sun, they may be somewhat mollified by the brand-new Worst Thing I've Been Cursed With, their first album with Fearless Records. While not quite a throwback to their screamo roots, it does bring more of that early edge back, evincing a band growing ever more comfortable with their own brand of radio pop rock as they show they can be incredibly listenable without being confectionary.

The songs still crackle with energy, still charge from the speakers with urgency, still nearly always feature choruses that are impossible to not sing along with. But the content is grittier and feels more real. Where Eyes to theSun at times detailed an idealized reality like you see in Disney movies (sometimes idealized can be fun: I'm still listening to that record two years later), Worst Thing feels more like a backstage pass to the last year of the band's life.

The opening "Saturday Skin" is certainly a statement. While modern culture has come a long way, building a love song around "your lip is pierced like mine is" purposely moves the band away from teen-bop (where "We Love Like Vampires" might have been in danger of putting them), and hoping for a partner to be "fucked and twisted up like you never had been" keeps them there.

There's some nuance in the rock, too, with '80s synth flavors in the opening rhythm guitar that clash nicely with the song's mean streak.

Even the album's first single, "She's a Bitch and I'm a Fool," appears designed to give a bit of a middle finger to the mainstream. It's one thing to have that line in the chorus, another to use it as your title. There's no doubt it's the single, though, especially considering Alex Roy's vocal hook in the chorus: "Felt like a movie when you walked out slowly." It quite literally gave me chills on the first couple of listens as he alters his pacing and arcs upward in the finish.

It also features the first of quite a few guitar solos (a couple of which feel just a bit "punched in" — looking forward to seeing this configuration live) from new guitarist Mike Naran, who lends some sneer to the group in general as a foil to Toby McAllister's hard-charging rhythm, even some appropriate hair-metal flavor from time to time, as on "Better Side of Me," which is punkish, too, in its aggression: "I'm pouring gasoline while she lights the match."

We get a verse here from Spose, even, and though he's not at his most outlandish, he's not pulling too many punches either: "Then we hopped in the whip, drove to the store/Took a bunch of drugs and then puked on the floor." More importantly, though, he's well integrated into the song as a whole — it's rap-rock, but it doesn't feel forced; it's funny, but Spose nicely mirrors Roy's ironic humor.

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, Alex Roy, Ben Briggs,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SAM PFEIFLE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   SEVEN-MAN ARMY  |  July 24, 2014
    Lately, it’s been open season on “Wagon Wheel,” which has become the acoustic musician’s “Freebird,” one of the very few songs that people actually know well enough to find it funny to request.
  •   AMOS LIBBY'S FIVE WEEKS IN THE HEART OF THE CONFLICT  |  July 23, 2014
    "(Israeli) immigration asked me at the airport why I didn’t leave when I could have and I said it was because I felt safe. They told me I was nuts.”
  •   WHAT YOU SAY, RYAN?  |  July 16, 2014
    Ryan’s calling card is his sincerity. While the production and presentation are of a genre, you won’t find him talking about puffing the chron or dissing women or dropping a million f-bombs or using a bunch of contemporary rap jargon. He’s got a plan and he executes it, with more variety and modes of attack than he’s had on display to this point.
  •   BETTY CODY, 1921-2014  |  July 11, 2014
    The Maine music community lost a hidden giant last week with the death of Betty Cody, at 92.
  •   ADVENTURES IN LO-FI  |  July 11, 2014
    One obvious reason for heavy music is catharsis, a healthy release for all the built-up bullshit modern life entails. Like kickboxing class for suburban women, but with lots of black clothing and long hair.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE