Through the Sparks bursts with retro originality and energy.By Chandler Padgett | 02/02/2016 9:45pm
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Hannah Slamen.
Alamalibu is the name of Through the Sparks’s garage studio tucked away in the Birmingham suburbs, and the title of their 6th release, “Alamalibu EP”. Despite their origins in the Birmingham suburbs, indie band Through the Sparks is anything but suburban, bursting with retro originality and energy.
Opening with a warm guitar and keyboard, “Brion Monchus” is a track that would be comfortable on any early Bowie record. “Roll on, roll on, roll on” sings Jody Nelson, the group’s lead singer, and roll on “Brion Monchus” does, keeping a steady pace throughout. It pleases the ear with a variety of instruments, from a steel guitar (a sign of their southern upbringing) to what sounds like a synthesizer. Nelson sings as a sort of happy troubadour, saying “I’m the king of nothing. The king of nothing’s got the blues” and “I’ve yet to let the gutter steer me wrong”.
“Warring Arms” is an upbeat tune with a mostly upbeat message—“It’s a bright, blue world most of the time.” Complete with a vintage analog keyboard solo, “Warring Arms” is loud with energy, all carried by Nelson’s wailing voice. “Nothing lasts forever,” Nelson sings at the end, “You got to learn to shake it off.”
Next is “Common Goals”, a danceable track with a great guitar riff. Through the Sparks once again employ some retro analog keyboarding, adding classic charm to their sound. If you dig the Napoleon Dynamite soundtrack, you got common goals with these Birmingham rockers.
Through the Sparks keeps the beat up with “Angel Fix”, a clap-along song that builds with tension and could be the best on the EP. Nelson is more subdued, allowing the rest of the band to shine with some lively keyboard and a guitar solo to finish off. The lyrics will itch your indie fix—Nelson sings “sex with angels in pillar form, and everything is worth the money” and “shadowbox in the sun and I’m burning.”
The EP rounds off with “Preacher Pink”, another powerful tune that sings of regret—“I can’t relive them, the tiny square numbers that pass for days.” Carried along by a spare but strong guitar and tight drums, “Preacher Pink” sees Nelson at both his quietest and loudest on the record. The EP explodes to a finish as Nelson repeats the line “If I could, I’d recast everything in high fidelity.”