Artist: Sparks the Rescue
Album: Sparks the Rescue EP
Considering Sparks the Rescue’s recent chequered history (member departures, label schisms), this Kickstarter-funded EP could easily have been populated with lots of morose, self-indulgent songs about rejection, bitterness, and loss. This is not so, however. On this seven-track EP, the band’s fourth, they confront their demons with characteristic pomp and zeal. It’s a hugely enjoyable listen, so much so that it’s almost a pity the songs are so short – there’s enough explosive energy on show here to keep things firing for much longer.
It is telling, further, that the EP is self-titled. Sparks the Rescue embrace all the conventions of their genre but they do so with a natural, fresh, and self-styled gusto. Not everything here is perfect – far from it – but it is all delivered with such reckless enthusiasm that you can practically hear the heart poring through the words. There’s so much involvement that it almost sounds as if they’re playing for their lives. This is evident as soon as “Disaster” erupts into life. The first proper song on the EP after a twenty-second intro, it is intense and feverish and matches all the shrill bravado of Alex Roy’s vocals with a wilful and urgent spill. The band dress pleading, desperate words in a brutishly catchy sound, suggesting a distance between thought and execution that lends the EP more depth than might first appear. “Burn all of my Clothes” for instance is founded on the type of textbook hook that’s endemic to the genre and yet there’s a corrosive edge that implies much tougher origins. Brusque and hormonal, the song teems with overinflated lyrical fixation but there is real power to the guitar sprawl.
Other tracks are more straightforward in their design. “Water Your Heart (Safe, Sound, and Buried)” features an engaged and emotional vocal performance from Alex Roy. It’s more pointed and concerned, with lonely guitar tweaks during the verses highlighting the sense of disharmony and regret that stabs through the words. Harmonies and layered backing vocals give the chorus an eerie undertone and add to this haunted vibe. The band make further excellent use of melody on “Dream. Catch. Her” to distinguish between harsh, cold realities and whispering thought processes. This song, which sounds remarkably like Taking Back Sunday when it kicks in, has a thunderous musical punch that adds considerable weight to the lyrics.
The words do need embellishment at times – they can be disappointingly simplistic or even juvenile and distract from the quality in the music. “Last Chance for Romance” in particular comes across as teen-movie fodder, and doesn’t leave the impact it should. “Phoenix” is much the same, even in spite of its acoustic setting. The format is just too overused when bands are trying to make songs sound heartfelt or soul-searching. Roy is piercing in his performance and the innocent, yearning lilt of the song is very likeable, but it’s a bit too overdone (particularly towards the end) to convince.
Regardless, the Sparks the Rescue EP is a solid release. Strong and impulsive, it improves with each re-listen and is soaked in such imperious adrenaline that it demands attention.
Review written by Grace Duffy