Monday, May 30, 2011

Heavy Rotation - Sparkadia

I heard a song on the radio about three months ago and was instantly enthralled. The singer's voice reminded me so much of Zachary Condon from Beirut to the point where I actually thought it was a Beirut song. But I googled the lyrics and discovered I was wrong - it was actually an Australian guy. It took a while before I heard the song on the radio again, but then suddenly it was popping up more frequently, as was another song I loved even more than the first one I had heard.

May I present to you The Great Impression by Sparkadia.

Sparkadia started out as a band in Sydney a few years ago and was originally known as The Spark. But after all of the band members departed, Alex Burnett forged ahead on his own to create an album that is a quirky mix of pop, ballad and mystery.

The opening title track is so light and happy it's impossible not to think of pop music from previous decades, the tinkling bells and falsetto-voiced Burnett are irresistible, and Footprints, the second track, continues this joyful, melodious sound. The third track, Talking Like I'm Falling Down Stairs, is the track I originally heard on the radio. It's slower and smoother, but there's an intensity in the lyrics that instantly makes you sit up and listen closely.

Love Less Love definitely takes it's cues from 80s pop music. It's a graceful glide through 80s pop nostalgia that rolls along at a catchy pace. Towards the end of the album, Fade From View echoes those sounds with a much more ethereal sound, which adds a nice touch to what could have been a bland, filler pop song. Ghost has a more somber tone, but it's chorus is reminiscent of 1950s rock - thumping and abrupt, but it touches a nerve as it evokes imagery of deeply hidden love. I Started Something I Couldn't Finish is incredibly spooky. There's honestly no other word for it - I feel as though I should be running maniacally through a ghost house in a horror movie whenever I listen to it.

The final track on the album, Too Young, starts out with some simple guitar and Burnett's superb voice, but it's the lyrics that draw you in as the pace picks up. It's a perfect final track - optimistic and free, with a lovely coming of age feel to it. This song was instantly one of my favourites upon my first listen, and it remains so.

But it's the fourth track, China, that is absolutely perfect. This was the second track I heard on the radio and I cannot get enough of it. It starts out so simply, and Burnett's voice emotes in such a quietly controlled way. The lyrics are illustrative of Burnett's superb songwriting skills, and as the music builds it's impossible not to get completely swept up by the crescendo. While some might say that lyrically the song is too simple, Burnett seems to know not to let the story take over the gorgeous arrangement of the instruments. China is probably one of the best songs I've heard in a long time, and it's definitely the stand out track on the album.

While Sparkadia's sound might not be for everyone, this is an album that has certainly carved out a niche sound in the Australian music industry. Boredom Abounds predicts this is an artist to watch.

In a word: profound

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Kirsty Wallett said...
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Kirsty Wallett said...

Oops - take two on a comment! Heard about this album but am yet to get around to a full listen - will definitely now though! I totally agree with you - first time I heard Sparkadia I was so surprised to find out they were Aussie. (Not meant to be an insult to Aussie music at all though)

Julia @ Boredom Abounds said...

Oh, I know - I really thought it was Beirut, or an American band with a really similar sound. Although apparently Alex Burnett It's a really nice album. Not everyone's cup of tea, but after a few listens the sounds just really start to mesh well together.