reviewed by Michael Thomas
Given the name and general aesthetic of this Ottawa band, one might expect pulsing synth-pop or groovy pop-rock. But if the music of Sparklesaurus is a person at a party, it is not the person leading the dance floor and socializing with lit rally everyone. No, Sparklesaurus is the person who comes in, talks with a few people, then goes off and finds a quiet place to think and relax for the next few hours.
There is definitely a catchy groove to quite a few songs on the self-titled album, but the grooves combine with a heavy 90s-alt-rock kind of vibe to arrive at the sound of Sparklesaurus. Opener “Kick Drum” is a perfect example of this, literally changing from fast-paced, groovy guitar lines to slowed-down, dramatic bursts of guitar and deadpan vocals from Felicity DeCarle. We’re meant to ponder three things, as repeated throughout the song: “The human condition, the heat of the big sun, the beat of the kick drum.”
“Young (Teach Me How To Have Fun)” also plays with patchwork parts, but in less of a back-and-forth manner than “Kick Drum.” For the vast majority of the song we hear a semi-tropical, synth-drenched backing, but at three minutes it seemingly shuts down and starts something new—for a few dozen seconds, before we’re thrown back into the original backing. The “uh huhs” at the end of the song are especially memorable.
True to the “sparkle” part of the band’s name, we get sweetness referenced in “Sprinkled on Cake” and “Peach,” but both mention a dark side to the sweetness. In the former, we’re repeatedly asked “Why must we rehash our past mistakes?” and in “Peach,” we meet someone who’s like syrup running down your body: “You’re sweet but you burn.”
Sparklesaurus’ songs tend to run on the longer side, with most being around the four-minute mark or longer, but the band really experiments with the eight-minute “The Royal We.” Half is an extended psychedelic jam before DeCarle comes in on vocals, juxtaposing phrases of commonalities with phrases of superiority.
Interestingly, we end on a more straightforward note with “Plasticine Baby,” seemingly an ode to someone important. It borrows more from the band’s 90s inspirations and has a lot of unfiltered truths, like “It makes me anxious when we have to go but everything is better when you’re around.”
You may not dance to Sparklesaurus under a disco ball, but it’ll accompany you when you tire of the bright lights and loud music.
Top Tracks: “Young (Teach Me How To Have Fun)”; “Sprinkled on a Cake”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)