Staring down her 17th birthday, Miranda Cosgrove faces the rite of passage that every Disney idol must pass: releasing her debut album. As the star of the super-millennial iCarly, perhaps it shouldn’t be a complete surprise that Sparks Fly is bedecked in modern electronic rhythms and icy hooks, yet the glassy surface sheen flies in the face of the natural charm Cosgrove displays on iCarly and its accompanying soundtrack. Miranda winds up buried underneath the weight of production on Sparks Fly -- it often comes across like a cross of Miley Cyrus and Kesha’s full-frontal assault (she is responsible for the album’s nadir, “Disgusting”) -- nor is she helped much by the series of belabored melodies that push her into vocal gymnastics that tax her range. Trace elements of her charm remain -- when the synths and brickwalled guitars are stripped back she retains a sweet girlish appeal -- but Sparks Fly is a cold, calculating product, right down to how the standard length is an EP-length eight songs so the four extra cuts on the “Deluxe Edition” seem like a gift. Miranda deserves better than this.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine