Starting off with an ironic twist within the operatic opening track, “Dick Around” and the cover art, a cluster of bunnies to visually present the album’s title Hello Young Lover, is evidence that the Sparks still have, well, more than a spark of ingenuity and a biting sense of humor.
It’s amazing to realize that Russell and Ron Mael have been at this songwriting biz for 32 or so years and this album marks their 20th. It’s said that the duo lived in a vacuum during their 18 month writing and recording session with little if any inspiration coming from the outside. Thing is, the Sparks could have easily spent that time in Grand Central Station without being recipients of influences, since the band has always been one to leave its mark on other songwriters and music fans and not the other way around. Really, who else could use an 18th-Century harpsichord with a modern day guitar lick and polish it off with pop rock perfection, as they did in “The Very Very Next Fight? Enough said.
The complex layers and mathematically derived orchestration continues through to the end, but not without that ingenious knack for tapping into various cultural, overtly obscure, and pop culture themes, from the politically inclined “(Baby, Baby) Can I Invade Your Country” to the doo-wop ditty “Here Kitty.” For long-time fans of Sparks previous material, “Waterproof” is definitely the standout track, beautifully reflecting both their glam era roots and the waves of modern rock via Russell’s vocal star quality.
Sparks’ Hello Young Lovers adds more icing on a cake of album delights that is continuing to make 2006 a stellar year for musical triumphs.