Album of the Week

Sparks – Indiscreet (1975)

Indiscreet - Sparks.jpg
Island Records

The Mael brothers, Russel and Ron, were huge in England during the seventies and eighties, but not so much in the states. Some Americans didn’t even know the band was from Los Angeles because the band sounded “exotic.” Some were wondering how this band manged to work with the greats, including Todd Rundgren and Tony Visconti, but not be as popular and only develop a cult following. For whatever reason that was, followers of the glam rock scene, taking place in the early seventies, really connected with the group.

If you were to start listening to the group, you would start with the band’s 1974 album, Kimono My House, which is considered by many critics and musicians, including Thurston Moore, to be the band’s best work. After Sparks released that, they broke through the mainstream.

Sparks were at the top of their game in 1975 and teamed up with Visconti to release the album, Indiscreet. Even though it was not as successful as Kimono My House or Propaganda, this is Sparks’ most innovative record.

With their goofy and shrewd lyrics over their power pop melodies and sharp glam rock riffs on songs like “Tits” and “How Are You Getting Home ?” you don’t know if you are listening to either a Monty Python record or T. Rex. Russel Mael’s dramatic vocals sound theatrical on “Get in the Swing” which shares a similar melody to the group’s combined work with Franz Ferdinand, “Piss Off” in 2015. Many of the tracks leap from genre, to power pop to opera. The opera feeling is best affiliated with “Under the Table With Her” which the romantic strings and flute reflect upon a dirty taking place with a couple, underneath a table at an Italian restaurant. The different styles also display Mael’s vocal range, which are comparable to Freddy Mercury’s. The heavy riff in “Happy Hunting Ground” and the end of “Hospitality of Parade” is the closest to what the band sounded like on previous albums. “Miss The Start, Miss The End” is both epic and melancholy, while “Looks Looks Looks” sounds like cheerful 1930’s big band swing music.

Sparks did not really stick to what average glam rock and power pop bands were releasing in the mid seventies. They took risks and released an album that didn’t appeal to the macho cowboy corporate rock of the time.

Listen to Sparks’ Indiscreet below.