Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sparkle*Jets U.K. - In, Through and Beyond - 1998

In, Through, and Beyond, the debut effort by L.A.'s Sparkle*Jets U.K., was the irreverent antidote to snoringly classicist late-'90s power pop acts. While Sparkle*Jets are a power pop band by virtue of their influences, exhibited here in their wonderful choice of covers (Electric Light Orchestra's "Above the Clouds," Big Star's "Thirteen," and the Beach Boys' "Girl Don't Tell Me"), they steer clear of clichés and remember that pop music is fun by design. While many modern pop revivalists play guitar pop like it belongs in a museum, Sparkle*Jets rock with abandon through these 15 tracks, smirking all the while. Sure, the songs can be goofy; there's a song about "Surfing Monkeys," and "Oh Poor Me" is more or less the female answer to the Smiths' "Girlfriend in a Coma," in which the girl doesn't mind that her narcissistic boyfriend dies in a fiery car wreck while trying to change CDs. And it doesn't stop there -- "My Internet Love Song (To You)," which crams computer jargon into a bouncy love song, is easily one of the most clever geek rock anthems ever written. Sure, the album sags a little toward the end, but the humor doesn't wear thin after a few listens because the hooks are strong and the two frontpersons are appealing. Mike Simmons and Susan West are like polar opposites -- Simmons' boyish, innocent voice provides the ideal backdrop for the album's more typically power poppy moments, while West is a little more prone to let loose with her very rock & roll set of pipes. The end result is a relentlessly energetic, delightfully cheery, and thoroughly entertaining debut record. -AMG