Sparks: New Music for Amnesiacs: The Ultimate Collection (Lil' Beethoven) - album review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Issue #48 - November/December 2013 - HAIMSparks

New Music for Amnesiacs: The Ultimate Collection

Lil' Beethoven

Nov 29, 2013 Sparks Bookmark and Share

At the very least, the brothers Ron and Russell Mael, otherwise known as Sparks, deserve a trophy for perseverance. Over the course of more than four decades, Sparks’ artistic evolution has been intriguing, even if that meant denting the Billboard charts only occasionally. Anyone mistaking Sparks for a novelty act most likely hasn’t listened closely; a Sparks song might make you smile, but humor in music doesn’t necessarily equate to novelty any more than humor necessarily equates to wit. And New Music for Amnesiacs offers a career-summing box of music that’s witty, ambitious, and hummable in equal measure.

The set includes four CDs with 81 songs, ordered chronologically, representing each of their studio albums (minus 2009’s The Seduction of Ingmar Bergman, which was conceived as a single piece). The dizzying twists of early tracks like “Wonder Girl” and “Roger” give way to an early peak period with the 1974 albums Kimono My House and Propaganda, from which the giddy pop-rock thrills of “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” and “Something for the Girl with Everything” have lost none of their fizz over time.

A few of the ‘80s songs may carry a bit more nostalgic than artistic weight for some. Digging further, if any listeners make the discovery that some of Sparks’ finest work began with 2002’s Lil’ Beethoven, for the Maels, that’s as good as a hit. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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Average reader rating: 10/10


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