With the newest release of Worst Thing I’ve been Cursed With Pop-Punk band Sparks the Rescue exceptionally display their talents, finally making headway into Fearless Records music industry. This underdog band has got the ball in their court for this year, or rather- they have one heck of a singer at the microphone.
Alex Roy has a voice that is perfect for this genre, especially after seeing how his vocals have changed since the release of the band’s first album with Fearless Records, Eyes to the Sun. He’s gone from a high-pitch, under trained, au natural style of singing to a voice that is rich and full of promise. It’s like Fearless Records suddenly decided that there was a certain “diamond in the rough,” to be found in these five boys from Maine. They were so right. Whether you can blame it on auto tune or not, the vocals put into The Worst Thing I’ve been Cursed With greatly benefits the ears more than the band’s first attempt at an album did. They make the band sound more professional, without sounding like they are going mainstream, such as most bands like All Time Low and The Academy Is. Sparks the Rescue retain their status as a semi-underground band by again administering those quirky lyrical wits, which are present in this new CD, Hello Mexico and Eyes to the Sun.
As for the instrumentals in the album, The guitar is definitely a hook for the entire album as a whole. Each song affected differently by the guitar‘s varying sounds and tones, like different colored M &M’s in the Keebler cookies. The variety makes each cookie different. Toby McAllister’s varied skills with a guitar for Sparks the Rescue creates this album’s M&M’s. Drummer Nate Spencer also really contributes to the album, since he truly has an amazing talent. The drums on this album increase the intensity and make for that head banging feel for most of the CD. Bass player Ben Briggs is also able to create an unearthly dark undercurrent that directly feeds into the new-found mature style that STR has adopted.
The first track on the album, “Saturday Skin,” is a complete hook. Which is great, because it then lures you in to see what else the album has to offer. The catchy snyths in the introduction and warring of guitars throughout the chorus and solos by Toby McAllister and Mike Naran keep you intrigued and will pique your interest throughout song. Both of these unique factors distract your attention from the lyrics. This is important, because no one wants to be singing along and then suddenly realize that the song they are singing is fully creeper. Lines like “I’m touching you while you sleep, tugging on your heart strings. Not a finer truth that sex brings” will definitely be setting off some alarms. This is the one major fault throughout the whole album. I would like to say it ends here after the first track, but sadly it will be referenced to again…. And then again.
The second track, “She’s a Bitch and I’m a Fool,” is probably a future hit. It’s one of the best songs on the album, another catchy hook to sing along to. Just make sure you are aware of the curses. Mom and dad might not like it too much if you decided to sing out your soul to this song when they are in the room. Overall, this is a pretty awesome track. Probably the most anticipated one as well, since it was featured as a preview of the album with Fearless Records on Youtube months before the album‘s actual release date. I absolutely love it.
“The Weirdest Way,” is again carrying out that creeper vibe throughout its lyrics. “I drove my car to your house and watched you undress yourself through the window pane, in the weirdest way. He put his hands on you the way that I used to. Does it feel the same, just a different name?” Yeah…. Definitely not stalker-ish, right? There’s also a part in the vocals where Alex’s voice is edited to hold out the word “know,” at about 40 seconds into the introduction. It’s so annoying, and is a downer for most of the rest of the track. It took away a whole bunch of potential for this song. The only saving grace was the doubled voice in the lines of “has he turned your heart around baby?” It is absolutely mesmerizing and just plain tasty. It’s like an instant jolt of endorphins to your brain, creating an atmosphere of utter bliss. This song will carry many people away into day-dreams. Just ignore the creeper lyrics.
The track with the most distortion would have to be “High and Hazy.” It’s completed with the “wah-wah” guitar in the intro. The title and some lyrics leave speculation for the possibility of a stoner song, accompanied by lyrics such as “ I think I’m addicted to the drug inside of you,” (most likely a metaphor for love) “I’ve been so high lately…. So damn hazy,” and “ passed out on the floor.” Alex’s vocals take a kind of downturn from the earlier songs, going back to his screechy ways in Eyes to the Sun and Hello Mexico, while in the majority of this new album, Alex’s voice is deep and rich. The mature voice will make you tingle from your head to your toes, even though it seems as though “High and Hazy,” missed out on that. “High & Hazy,” is cute when you think about being high off of love…. Then you hear the rest and you are drawn back to creepy because the stalker lyrics again present themselves.
The title song of Worst Thing I’ve been Cursed With luckily, reminds us of how amazing Alex’s voice can be. With a sultry and seductive tone in the intro, it doesn’t matter that the first line of the song is “ I’m not worried about who she’s sleeping with this far.” Nope, there’s definitely not much “rejection, now I’m obsessed,” reoccurrence in the theme here. Even though what it‘s saying is creepy, Alex’s voice still raises a few heart rates in this number. The voice overlay in the second verse is a lovely addition, and the words “heart attack,” repeated throughout the song in a held-out, high voice adds to the song’s intensity. The whole piece just adds to the magnificent quality of this album.
At tracks 6 and 7, we have hit our first road bump. (Besides the creeper moments.) “Better Side of Me,” starts off okay with a crispy-clear “wah-wah” guitar in the intro, but that’s about the only good thing about it. Classically, this song is about teen angst. In the modern era of music, writing a song about teen angst is adding fire to a complete overkill. Stick a fork in it, the teen angst song days are done. Lines like “ Met a little girl and she seemed so sweet. Now we’re buying 40’s drinking down by the street. Just you and me, and a naked teen make three.” and “gave her my heart in a paper bag. We only make love when she’s on the rag. It’s a problem so I better step back.” enforce this strongly. STR then throws us all for a loop by adding a…. RAPPER!?!
WTF!? Who would have thought an alternative rock band would use rap on one of their CDs? I guess we can’t accuse them of not trying something different. Let’s just hope that they don’t do it again, because the rap added in “Better Side of Me,“ just isn’t pretty. The rap is like a puzzle piece that just doesn’t quite fit. On the 7th track “Sent me a Postcard of a Tidal Wave,” the only thing that stands out clearly is the fact that the whole song sounds like it was accidentally placed on this album and was meant to go on their previous album Eyes to the Sun. This song took a step backwards with its super peppy beat and almost nonsense lyrics. “Oh, I’m sorry we forgot to put it on our first CD, and we thought it would be okay to put in here.” Right… Not.
Much is the same for the track “Holiday,” and it takes on a new meaning this time, because in an interview with Alternative Press magazine, lead singer Alex said that “Holiday” was originally written at the same time as Eyes to the Sun. The only thing stopping them from releasing it then was that the band wasn’t satisfied with the chorus. No, it was not okay to add this song to The Worst Thing I’ve been Cursed With album. It sounds too different and throws the whole thing off. It doesn’t belong, and I don’t know why someone didn’t say something to STR before the release of this album. It would have been better as a single. “Holiday” does bring some extreme pep to the album as a whole. Even though it was unnecessary.
“Vanities” is a song that was unfortunately sandwiched between all of this blah on the CD. It is a bright star between three not so great songs. The beginning guitar has a blues kind of feel to it, starting this song off from the beginning as different from the rest of the album. The lyrics have a romantic ballad-like air about them, making this song truly in separate from the rest of the CD, or anything that STR has released entirely.
“60 minutes of Fame” is just another creeper song about one night stands and parties. Its good, but there’s nothing really special about it. “How to Make a heart Hollow” however, again brings out that sexily mature voice from Alex. Yummy! It has the one of the best intros on the album, topped off with the line, “I took a chance and I danced with a loaded gun.” What an epic way to start off a song. I’m usually not one for boy/girl vocal duos, but adding Jessica Lepon from The Morning Of was a good choice. She wasn’t really that great as a back up, but in the conversational part of the song between Alex and Jessica, she did a wonderful job. The highlight of this song overall though, still had to be the sultry sexy voice from Alex. This ballad/duet is relatively comparable to “Two is Better Than One” by Boys Like Girls.
As a finale for this amazing album, brining up the rear is the song “I Thought you were the One.” STR reverts back to the Hello Mexico days with the upbeat tempo and symbolic lyrics. The dubbed vocals at 2:03 make this song a little more interesting They sound modern, but it’s not like we haven’t already heard them a few times this far into the CD. The guitar has opted for a kind of predatory dominance role early in the song, but soon after the heaviness of the drums pushes it off the front and center stage. It’s like a battle for attention between all the instrumentals in this song. Singing lyrics like “Just let me warn, I built this storm. Knowing well that it’d piss you off.” are a great add as well, nice choice. In conclusion, this is a really good album, and its something new and refreshing from Sparks the Rescue. It’s lovingly different from any of their other works, which is what makes it so good. A great guitar, steady drums, mature vocals, and added pop-like synths take this album to the next level. Sparks the Rescue has definitely put out some well armored competition for all of Fearless’s other signed bands, and they have put out competition for all other bands of a similar genre. Be warned.