In 2009, two years after their pop turn with What If Leaving Is a Loving Thing, Sahara Hotnights released Sparks, an album comprised entirely of covers. Produced by the multi-talented Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John, the most pleasant surprise about this album is not any particular track, but the choices regarding material. Sahara Hotnights confidently take on and conquer a broad array of songs and, indeed, of decades -- from Dusty Springfield's 1989 single "In Private" and Cass McCombs' "City of Brotherly Love" to big hitters such as Janet Jackson and the Foo Fighters. Two of the most unexpected tracks on Sparks are covers of one-hit wonder Aneka's 1981 single "Japanese Boy" and Pentagram's 1984 hit "Be Forewarned." The album begins with a version of the Steve Miller Band's "Wide River" that has been so well appropriated that it could very well be Sahara Hotnights' original work if listeners didn't know better. And isn't that the idea of a cover: to brand a song with one's very own sound? Sahara Hotnights succeed masterfully here, with an album that is concise, educated, and altogether enjoyable, if perhaps lacking in other surprises.
AllMusic Review by Celeste Rhoads