Review: Hello Young Lovers

Who don’t love Sparks?  I suppose the folks who don’t know who Sparks are might not love Sparks, but that’s only because of plum ignorance.  But REST EASY, reader — we’re here to set you straight by reviewing ALL the Sparks records — and not just by one, but TWO (and maybe occasionally MORE!) Die-Hard Sparks Fan Reviewers.  We shall be your guide into the wonderful world of Mael.  Check it out!

Rev. Syung Myung Me:  This album has a lot of bunnies on the cover.  That’s definitely a plus.  Bunnies are AWESOME.  Their fur is really soft and they’re adorable.  The album itself is pretty good too.

I tend to think of it as a continuation of Lil’ Beethoven, in that if that album were written by the titular composer, that Hello Young Lovers is Lil’ Beethoven’s attempt to go pop.  There’s a lot of similar sounds in it — but it’s a little bit more accessible.  Less in the way of repeated lyrics, a bit less in terms of orchestration, but the same sort of structures and general sound.

It’s not quite as successful to me — though, again, part of that might be because I got Sparks via Lil’ Beethoven, so it’s definitely got a soft spot in my heart.  The songs on Hello, Young Lovers are mostly really good, but there is a miss.  “The Very Next Fight” is a little.. odd to me; I can’t quite place why I don’t quite like that song, though it is catchy.  Of course, that song is made up for by “Dick Around”, “(Baby Baby) Can I Invade Your Country)” and “As I Sit Down To Play The Organ At The Notre Dame Cathedral”.  Or “Here Kitty”, a deft retelling of the classic “Lady And The Tiger” story.

While it might not be as immediately arresting as its predecessor, it’s still a worthy followup.  I quite dig it, and that’s even without the adorable bunnies.

Awww… bunnies…

Aila: Hello Young Lovers is a worthy follow-up to Lil’ Beethoven. Predictably, it doesn’t quite outdo it’s predecessor in terms of innovation, but that would have been a nearly impossible task.

From the outset this seems like a much more accessible album than the last, although that could have something to do with being previously exposed to the general sound on display (it would be interesting to learn the thoughts of a Sparks fan who listened to this before hearing Lil’ Beethoven, if any exist). Regardless, the songs on this do seem a bit more conventional than the last album (the strong ‘love and relationships’ theme of the album probably help with this), while still retaining the general semi-orchestral and repetition-heavy style of that record. The highlights of this album rank well with any of the best Sparks songs. “Dick Around,” “Rock, Rock, Rock,” and “(Baby Baby) Can I Invade Your Country?,” are all supremely crafted songs which utilize the typical Sparks tongue-in-cheek humor about as well as anyone could hope. This is also the case with “Metaphor” and “Here Kitty.” both of which could have easily appeared on a pre-Lil’ Beethoven album with a bit of modification to the arrangements. These aren’t the most conventional songs on the album, however, as “Waterproof” and “Perfume” seem tailor-made to appeal to ears of anyone not briefed in the 21st century sound of Sparks. “Perfume” was one of the singles of the album, which seemed a slightly strange choice personally, as I consider it one of the weaker songs on the album, despite it’s catchy nature. Of course, none of the songs on this album are exactly what I’d describe as “weak.” Even the relatively ho-hum “There’s No Such Thing As Aliens” and the not-quite-as-epic-as-you’d-think closer “As I Sit To Play The Organ At The Notre Dame Cathedral” are pretty excellent in their own way. The only song I’m not completely sure about is “The Very Next Fight,” which seems to be written from the perspective of an abusive boyfriend or husband. It’s not exactly a bad song, but it certainly comes off as a bit unnerving (which may well have been the intention) and as a result it’s not one that I usually listen to unless I’m playing the album as a whole.

Hello Young Lovers is an excellent Sparks album which provides a solid middle to a trio of relatively similar albums (the last being Exotic Creatures Of The Deep) which were made in one of the best eras for the band. At times I would probably consider this one of my top five favorite Sparks albums, although that really depends on my particular mood at the time. Any way you look at it, this is a great record by arguably the best four-decades-running musical group in existence.

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