It’s been nearly 50 years since Sparks recorded its debut and the duo of Russell and Ron Mael sound as clever, quirky and enchantingly melodic as they’ve always been on the band’s latest release, “A Steady Drip, Drip Drip.”
The two occupy a musical space where Ron’s pop songcraft travels from vaudeville through Gershwin to rock ‘n’ roll and Russell’s vocals can still perfectly knock out a falsetto or sing his way through an exhausting amount of words. “Lawnmover” makes something seemingly mundane into a sing-along earworm, “I’m Toast” harkens back to its early ‘70s glam rock days, “Sainthood Is Not In Your Future” could fit nicely on one of the Mael’s classic mid-‘70s albums such as “Kimono My House,” “Left Out in the Cold” breezes by with the help of a seductive Latin swing and “Self-Effacing” gives modesty the anthem it didn’t know it deserved. The album does take on a darker mood during its latter portion, particularly with “iPhone” and “The Existential Threat,” but the melodies rule over all.
“Drip, Drip, Drip” begins and ends with anthems of differing tones. A rousing “All That” defiantly reintroduces Sparks on its 24th studio album, while “Please Don’t Fuck Up My World” represents the band at its dark-humored apex mixed with a sincerity that cuts to the core of one generation speaking to another.
With “A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip” Sparks shows that just as talent is an asset, consistency wins out.