Sparks Latest Album Ramps up the Distortion and Strings for Their Loudest Record
Sparks – The Girl Is Crying in Her Latte (Los Angeles)
Continuously unapologetic in their unique style after all these years, Sparks latest album ramps up the distortion and strings for their loudest record in a while. Mixing some of their newest sounds with a bit of 70s Sparks, this record touches on a lot of what we’ve come to love about the band. “The Girl is Crying in Her Latte” is a building wall of synths and chants, with the Mael brothers seemingly contrasting the pain of monotony with the weight of the modern world. There’s a wonderfully loose feeling to “Escalator” that makes its observational style both fun and romantic in a hilarious way, with its indie-feeling loops morphing into a dense synth landscape. The aggressive charge of “We Go Dancing” makes its silly lyrical approach feel borderline serious, as you get lost in the mounting tension in the production. The fluttering strings and vocals of “It’s Sunny Today” reflects the beauty of nice weather perfectly, crafting a sonic painting out of how amazing those warm rays can feel.
Desiree Dorion – That’s How I Know (Single) (Dauphin, Manitoba)
As a celebration of all those little signs of love, “That’s How I Know” sees Desiree Dorion highlighting the moments that build up to keep a love going. The warm, twangy drive of the track is simple but provides a feeling of strength to emphasize how tight the relationship at the core of the song is. However, Dorion flips from an eccentric solo to a glowing bridge full of sunny keyboard lines to drop you into that final chorus with a colossal drop. Familiar in the best and often most comforting ways, this track is a great musical representation of that fortifying and assuring kind of love.
Arlo Parks – My Soft Machine (London, U.K.)
Anaïs Marinho aka Arlo Parks came out the gate swinging since they hit the scene a couple years ago, and has stepped up to a whole new level and genre on their new record. Mixing in a finessed level of pop on their album, Parks is crafting wholly personal, yet accessible tracks. The glowing notes of “Bruiseless” immediately sweep you away like a breeze, as Parks wants to shed their baggage and just be. The grooves and shimmering guitar lines of “Devotion” guide you to its burning choruses, with the explosive chorus sending the track off into a fiery high. The most mesmerizing trip in the production comes out in the surprising and catchy “Blades,” where Parks crafts a sublime club dance track with an infectious low-end, and a soaring vocal delivery that takes the song into the clouds. “Weightless” shifts into a full, glossy pop sphere, with every new keyboard adding a new starry feeling to the track and every vocal layer adding to its emotional depth.
Bethany Cosentino – It’s Fine (Single) (Los Angeles)
Though a country influence seems like a surprising step for the usually surf-driven Bethany Cosentino (Best Coast), it provides the perfect melancholy backdrop feeling her new single “It’s Fine.” As a mature and diplomatic kind of breakup song, “It’s Fine” seems to lament a kind of fizzling out love, where no one party is the bad guy, but there’s been enough change that needs aren’t being met anymore. The real power lyrically here is that kind ambivalent take on things being “fine,” where even “not bad” can be draining. The whole thing is tied together with Cosentino’s subtly catchy melodies and the earwormy burst of every chorus, making you want to chant “It’s fine” along with Cosentino.
Jessie Ware – That! Feels Good! (London, U.K.)
While firmly planted in the realm of radio pop, Jessie Ware has made a point of delivering club-ready tracks that are effortlessly easy to dance to. There’s a deeply satisfying kick to the production and disco-styled arrangements on “That! Feels Good!” that pulls you into every horn, harmony and high-flying guitar line, with Ware calling you into this sensual dancefloor hit to just lose yourself in the moment. Likewise, that piano-bass combo on “Free Yourself” begs you to scream and shake along with the simple-yet-effective flow of this track, with Ware fully honed in on the track’s most addictive qualities to let it bounce with style. There’s a more sultry drive on “Pearls” between its whispers and power vocals, with Ware working with the punchy bass to make a track that pays great homage to Chaka Khan and Donna Summer while also doing her own thing. Unhinged from the beginning, “Freak Me Now” races like a rollercoaster with its relentless pace and a delicious bass line that lets Ware and the rest of the track cut loose and make a rushing celebration of love and music to keep the back-half of the record entrancing.