Music review: Sparks

Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks
Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks
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POP trends come, pop trends go, and Sparks ignore them all in creating their unique and almost alien pop sound. As for their fans, they don’t always know what it is but they like it.

Academy, Glasgow ****

Revivified by their collaboration with Franz Ferdinand – the brilliantly named FFS – Ron and Russell Mael have recruited a hungry young five-piece backing band, all the 
better to render early glam rock numbers such as Hasta Manana Monsieur, provide that extra firepower to convey the rock operatics of At Home At Work At Play and deliver the propulsive groove of muscular synth rocker Tryouts for the Human Race with its shades of Miami Vice (or maybe that was just the inference from the tailored pink jackets worn by Russell Mael and band).

If anything, they have become wittier and quirkier in their old(er) age, as showcased by the rhyming dictionary delights of Hippopotamus, the blithely comic I Wish You Were Fun and the huffy What The Hell Is It This Time?, 
revisiting the harassed deity from their classic Get In The Swing – hopefully heckled for but not on the setlist on this occasion.

Instead, they pre-empted their own request When Do I Get To Sing My Way? with a brief rendition of the titular standard, before unleashing the exquisite euphoria of Number One Song In Heaven, enhanced by the magnificent ritual of Ron Mael’s dance, and the orgasmic pop of This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both Of Us and Amateur Hour starring Russel Mael’s skyscraping vocals.

FIONA SHEPHERD