Sparks

Propaganda

  • AllMusic Rating
    8
  • User Ratings (0)
  • Your Rating

AllMusic Review by

What better way to promote Sparks' spinning blender of demented pop than Propaganda? The band's fourth album (and second with producer Muff Winwood) is chock-full of great ideas, including the overseas hits "Something for the Girl With Everything" and "Never Turn Your Back on Mother Earth." With Russell Mael delivering the lyrics in his rapid-fire falsetto, the lyric sheet is a necessary compass, as the clever wordplay is a key to discovering what these pranksters are up to. Ron Mael's skewed take on relationships ("At Home, at Work, at Play," "Don't Leave Me Alone With Her") are nearly upstaged by the hyperactive arrangements, but when the words and the music click, it's pure magic. In fact, "Bon Voyage" might be the most sublime song they've ever written, teetering between genuine pathos for and lampooning of the plight of those left behind by Noah and his ark. Other highlights include "Achoo" (about, you guessed it, catching a cold) and "Who Don't Like Kids," in which Mael uncorks the opening lines "You got a cigar, here's a couple more/Because the offspring are springing through swinging doors" in a few seconds. The torrential outpouring of words and ideas, underscored by guitars and keyboards with oft-shifting rhythms, either repels or attracts listeners. Though the similarities to Queen are sometimes striking, they eschew that band's seriousness and epic guitar work, favoring hit-or-miss observations that suggest a cross between 10cc and the power pop of the late '70s. Propaganda remains one of Sparks' brightest achievements, brimming with a loopy charm that continued to captivate the open-minded English listeners, if not their close-minded countrymen in the U.S. [Note that European CD reissues in the late '90s include non-album B-sides from the record's two U.K. singles as bonus tracks: "Alabamy Right" and "Marry Me."]

blue highlight denotes track pick