Sparkadia - Postcards
Review by Jack Foley
HOT new Australian favourites Sparkadia finally release their debut album Postcards in the UK and go some way to justifying the early buzz surrounding them.
The band first caught the eye with the single Too Much To Do, which boasts an easy accessibility, fine melodies and a soaring vocal from Alex Burnett that perfectly sums up the feeling of many people nowadays who struggle to cope with all that life has to offer them. It’s a nice starting point for the album too.
Most recent single, Morning Light follows just two songs later and showcases the band’s ability to create addictively catchy guitar pop with a darker lyrical undertone.
As Alex explains: “This was the first song [drummer] David [Hall] and I wrote back in 2004. It’s a slight contradiction of sorts – on the one hand, I was reflecting on a new years eve spent at Bondi Beach where I’d experienced mixed emotions about the massive expectations of the night and was somewhat reserved about the celebration of retrospection.
“As far as I was concerned back then, the unknown was far more exciting than old memories. But then at the same time, David and I were buying dozens of cheap second hand vinyl each week by artists we’d never heard of from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. As we were kids of the 90’s we weren’t aware of Elvis Costello, Buddy Holly, the Pretenders and Burt Bacharach, and each day we were discovering hundreds of other artists that blew our minds and inspired us as musicians. It was an exciting time for us as songwriters.” It’s a catchy indie-pop offering.
Further highlights come in the form of the slow-burning Our Own Way, which boasts some understated guitar work, and Up In The Air, which is surely an anthem in waiting given that it combines Embrace-style euphoria with something a little more psychadelic/shoegazer.
Jealousy, meanwhile, kicks on from its bass guitar opening to include some chiming indie riffs and a general feel of positivity in spite of its darker lyricism, and Space & Time has a wonderfully breezy quality that’s very appealing.
Not everything works, however, and there are times when certain songs give away the fact this is a debut offering. Connected is a little too art-rock and even feels, vocally, like the work of someone like Rufus Wainwright, while Help Yourself drops the guitars in favour of piano melodies and Beach Boys harmonising without ever really winning you over. Such moments certainly showcase their versatility, but they don’t work as cohesively with the general vibe of the album.
There are other songs, too, which feel like they may have been a little more hard work, or even filler material.
But on the whole, this is a competent and appealing opening salvo from a Sydney-based act that we can only look forward to hearing more from in the future.
Download picks: Too Much To Do, Morning Light, Up In The Air, Jealousy, Space And Time