If anything, Sparkle in the Finish proves just how wrong the major label execs were about Ike Reilly when they dropped him shortly after the 2001 release of his super Salesmen & Racists. If this offering eases away from the hip-hop tinge of that disc, it finds the Libertyville, IL-bred singer/songwriter excelling at infectious rock & roll ("Garbage Day"), story-built balladry ("Ex-Americans"), and Beck-styled rhythmic thumping ("I Don't Want What You Got [Goin' On]"), whether he's pondering a fling with a toll-booth attendant or asserting his desire for cash and accolades. If the heartland stomp of "Whatever Happened to the Girl in Me?" seems a little out of place, one suspects that's Reilly's point -- expect the unexpected. Fusing appealing melodies, expressive lyrics (like "Jerry Lee Lewis with his balls on fire/In the back of a Rocket 88/With an out-of-state plate/And an underage date"), and a crack backing band, the Ike Reilly Assassination is an outstanding group and Sparkle in the Finish shines from start to finish.
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AllMusic Review by John D. Luerssen