Saturday, August 25, 2012

Sparks the Rescue - Sparks the Rescue EP

Sparks the Rescue- Sparks the Rescue EP
Label: Self-released
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Not all that long ago, Sparks the Rescue were pop-rock darlings. They had swooping haircuts, skinny jeans, looks that could kill and a bona fide summer record in Eyes to the Sun. Fast forward four years. Alex Roy and company haven't traded in their haircuts or penchant for wearing matching-colored jackets, but their newest self-titled EP jams harder than their summery and builds on the alternative progression of Worst Thing I've Been Cursed With. The often unfairly criticized Worst Thing was just a stepping stone in the learning curve of straying from the pop-punk path. Roy sounds more in his own element and confident in the band's ability to craft moodier tracks.

"Disaster" kicks the EP into high gear with noodling guitars and a desperate vocal performance from Roy. This isn't the same Sparks the Rescue that wrote the happy-go-lucky "Autumn"and "We Love Like Vampires." Roy's vocals, especially a stunning falsetto turn, are acidic and in-your-face. Guitarist Mike Naran gets a chance to flaunt his talent with a slick solo towards the end of the track that breaks into some throaty screams. It's a biting song that hearkens back to the band's post-hardcore roots (see: their first EP), which helps to have former member Marty McMorrow back to trade scathing lines with Roy.

But that's not saying that Sparks the Rescue's pop leanings have fallen to the wayside. "Water Your Heart (Safe, Strong and Buried)" balances blistering guitar riffs and squeals with one of Roy's best pop vocal performances to date. "Last Chance for Romance" takes the band's foot off the gas pedal for a more radio-friendly number and "Dream. Catch. Her." should be a fan favorite at concerts for shows to come. This is still a band that has an ear for a good chorus, even if there's more venom in the lyrics than usual.

Even if pop-friendly choruses and progressions are their strong suit, there's almost no playing it safe on the EP. "Burn All of My Clothes," buried as the fifth song on the EP, is every bit as urgent as opener "Disaster." It's a vicious and take-no-prisoners alternative rock jam, but still carries the sun-drenched vibe that Sparks the Rescue have made their calling card.

Sure, the EP ends with a safe, comfortable acoustic ballad in "Phoenix," but this EP will floor listeners with the most immediacy the band has had since Eyes to the Sun. If this is meant to be a stopgap between albums, it'll be exciting to see where the band goes once they unleash the next flood of energy and emotion.

Recommended If You Like: Valencia, Go Radio, Mayday Parade

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