Ex-Barcelona singer/guitarist Jason Korzen waited a few years before assembling a new project after that band called it quits in 2001. With Starling, Spiders, Tiger and Sprites, he cements his status as one of the most literate and unconventional lyricists in indie music. Most of the album was performed by Korzen and his wife, Amy Korzen, who performs on various toy instruments on the album, adding a childlike glee to the festivities. Gone are the keyboards and synthesizers that were a common thread in most Barcelona tracks. Opening with the light and upbeat "Do It Yourself," Korzen next narrates a tale of teenage romance on "I Want You Back." "Ask Me to Dance" includes more of Korzen's charming lyrics of apparently adolescent storylines, while "It Changes" slows down the pace in favor a more subtle, almost folk-like song, complete with howling dogs. It's on songs like "Following Her Around" and "I Wish I Sang Better" that Korzen's Barcelona-era sound seeps through. The layered instrumentation and quirky indie rock inside jokes make these songs effortlessly delightful. On "Make a Baby With Me," he serenades to his wife on the brief, enchanting track. "Keep It Together" is quite possibly the disc's most graceful track, while "Acting Like We Quit" is a subtle political rant. The disc ends with the relaxed ballad "Winter Coat," led by Korzen's pensive vocals. In the end, the colorful mix of tambourine, melodica, brushed snare drums, and various guitars makes Sprites a definite change of pace from Barcelona. The disc marks an impressive return by Korzen. Brett Lemley guests on trumpet and flügelhorn throughout the disc. Produced by Trevor Kampmann, the disc was released in February 2003 on March Records.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Cramer