Agent Sparks

Not So Merry

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The mystery is how a band that's only been together for one year managed not only to land Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger as a producer for its debut EP, but also to get legendary visual artist Alan Aldridge (who designed album art and posters for the likes of Cream, the Who, and the Beatles back in the day) to do the cover illustration. The fact of the debut itself isn't much of a surprise, though; it's pretty easy to see what got the labels so interested so quickly: Agent Sparks' songs jitter and flop around with an appealing blend of skronky noisiness and pop-smart structure, and their sound is simultaneously unique and timeless. You'll hear hints of the early Pixies in their charming mix of sonic chaos and straightforward hooks, and hints of X in the astringent boy-girl harmonies. But there's something sideways about their tunes and something desperate about the singing that sets them apart from their influences. Everything comes together most effectively on "Choke," the EP's fourth track and its most quickly comprehensible one, but spend a little time with the 12/8 rocker "It's Not My Time" and you'll be glad you did. The upcoming full-length album should be lots of good, messy fun. Recommended.

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