All but three years ago, Portland’s Sparks The Rescue were making pulsating post-hardcore that threatened to make it big in the underground scene. However, when the time came to record their debut full-length ‘Eyes To The Sun’, the band refined their sound to a more pop-rock sound with a little bit of extra kick and fortunately for them, it worked. Now with their sophomore record, ‘Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With’, they’ve refined their sound even further in what they hope will bring further acclaim to the band. The question is, will this be a sophomore slump or the comeback of the year?
As the cheesy synth riff to opening track ‘Saturday Skin’ kicks in, there is momentary doubt as to where this is going. All such doubt is quickly swept away as Alex Roy‘s saccharine voice kicks in and the song really takes off. This album has everything that fans of the pop-punk genre will go crazy for: big guitars, (see ‘She’s A Bitch And I’m A Fool’ and ‘Better Side Of Me’), huge sing-alongs (‘How To Make A Heart Hollow’) and fast, upbeat tracks like the record’s title track.
Listening to Toby McAllister and Mike Naran‘s twin guitar work soar and harmonize is a true pleasure, and is often reminiscent of big 80s hair rock. This style seems to be none too familiar recently with a lot of bands (Mayday Parade, Anarbor, The Maine) in the same genre taking the same route, and all creating better albums as a result. If this is the new pop-punk fashion, then I for one am not complaining.
For the most part, ‘Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With’ is better than its predecessor. It is more musically innovative; it is more of a throwback to their edgy sound that they used to produce without losing their mainstream appeal. The band even has a confidence to throw in a cheeky rap section in ‘Better Side Of Me’. However, the same problem that has plagued Sparks The Rescue‘s work since the very beginning: whilst all the songs are upbeat and catchy, none of them besides the odd one or two posses a major hook which will get stuck in your head all day. This is a weapon that many other bands pack, and without it Sparks The Rescue may fail to blossom in the scene.
With the Winter days drawing to a close, this is the perfect album to welcome in the Summer and warmer days. It’s not an album that takes itself too seriously, and anyone who judges it that way has clearly missed the point. It is a big, fun album full of a sing-alongs, and enough saccharine vocals and lyrics to satisfy even the most rigorous sweet tooth. Despite the lack of a major hook, there’s no doubt that Sparks The Rescue are going places, and fast.
Written by Oliver Thompson