Some time ago, Justin Hawkins, gangly, pigeon-faced frontman of over-the-top British rockers The Darkness took a walk away from his spandex-clad, falsetto-loving tribute to old-school rock, going solo with a cover of Spark’s biggest hit ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us’.
**Note: This is an archived post, originally published on Big Yawn music back in 20016**
Fast forward a year later, and Ron and Russel Mael make a fine return to form, booting Hawkins out and reclaiming this town, built on foundations of near-ridiculous, operatic rock, for themselves.
From the opening bout of absurdity that makes up the hilarious Dick Around to the intense, dramatic score of closer As I Sit To Play The Organ at the Notre Dame Cathedral, Spark’s epic twentieth album is a grand, majestic piece of work, mixing a bold, defined sense of the operatic with serrated guitars, lavish lyrics and a sense of harebrained humour that makes you wonder whether your supposed to take the whole thing seriously or not.
Your best bet is simply not to. With irreverent tunes such as Perfume, which sounds like Queen rising from the ashes to salvage and rework Lou Bega’s ‘Mambo #5’ or the wonderfully bombastic Rock, Rock, Rock that is less a banging hard rock anthem as its title may suggest, and more a pompous romp of Spinal Tap like proportions, Hello Young Lovers is fine display of OTT musical theatrics designed to please the senses.
However, hidden beneath the grandiose layers of falsetto rock and occasional hilarious lyrics, there’s a set of sublime messages about relationships that really adds an extra depth to this already huge album, and makes it such an essential listen.
In a musical genre all of their own, Sparks have returned with a fine, megalomaniacal masterpiece that shows Mr. Hawkins & Co. just exactly how this kind of grandiose rock should be done.