[20 August 2007]
36 minutes hardly seems enough time to craft a completely fulfilling musical experience, but with Birmingham, Alabama quintet Through the Sparks leading the way, suddenly it’s possible. Though the band’s sound consistently gives a psychedelic indie-rock tint to the feel-good vibes of The Beach Boys and The Beatles, their rich and varied instrumental arrangements allow plenty of room for some very pleasing surprises. Integrating horns, pedal steel, ukuleles and transcendent vocal harmonies with a host of guitar and keyboard tones, the band is able to gear each track to not only properly convey a certain emotional tone, but to create a fitting environment in which that expression can flourish. From restrained, atmospheric mood pieces to bouncy rock and roll, Through the Sparks always sound intentional and never disingenuous with every change of tempo, temperature and style. “Falling Out of Favor with the Neighbors” recalls the sound of solo John Lennon while instrumental “The Smile of Your Shadow”, though slowly shuffling, retains a sense of pulse and momentum. “Local Moon” is a nice slice of melodic indie rock while “Archetype” employs an old-time, Old West piano sound to create a modern, hard-luck ballad. Hard to pigeonhole but easy to appreciate, Through the Sparks are a bright star ready to shine for the right audience.