Oh, summertime. It’s strange just how distinguishable that particular time of the year is. Here in Miami there is no distinction between summer and any of the other seasons; it’s always unbearably hot and humid, yet there is something about summer that is just different from any other time of the year. Even the time before summer has a feel, the anticipation of being free of worries, and planning what to do with all the free time you’re gonna get for the next three months. There’s nothing like some good, catchy, and upbeat pop-punk to accompany it. Oh yeah, speaking of good, catchy, and upbeat pop-punk, it just so happens I’m here to review the new Sparks the Rescue record, Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With.
Sparks the Rescue is a band that has been on my radar since they first signed with Fearless Records, who reissued their debut album, Eyes to the Sun, which was a solid collection of catchy pop-punk. For whatever reason, Sparks the Rescue didn’t exactly take off with that album, and they were mostly overshadowed by their fellow label-mates. It was somewhat aggravating to see such a talented band get overlooked. Well, it must have been aggravating for them as well because for their newest release they made sure to make an album that has all the elements of their previous one, except this time everything is taken to the next level, and shame on you if you pass this one up as well.
Beginning with what is sure to be one of this summer’s most played songs, “Saturday Skin,” it is easy to see the strengths and weaknesses of Sparks the Rescue. First off, vocalist Alex Roy is a hell of a singer, and fits the mold for this genre quite nicely. Sparks the Rescue are also very aware of the power that a hook has on songs on this kind, as well as having some pretty impressive instrumentation, especially for its genre. However as catchy and prolific as this band is at songwriting, it is to be noted there is a main fault to the album- the lyrics. Lines like “I’m touching you while you sleep/Tugging on your heartstrings to find the truth that sex brings” are not only cheesy, but they can get kind of creepy. That is not the end of the bad lyrics, but fortunately the positives in this album are also constant throughout the rest of the album.
“She’s a Bitch and I’m a Fool” adds another postive aspect to the band. It’s clear that one of the most creative members in the band is drummer Nate Spencer, whose drums singlehandedly drive the instrumental side of the song while Alex Roy delivers some pretty huge hooks, almost to the point where the whole song is one big hook.
The cringe-worthy lyrics make another appearance in the following track, and first single, “The Weirdest Way.” When I said the lyrics can get kind of creepy I really wasn’t kidding. The whole song is one big tale of stalking, set to catchy choruses and infectious guitars of course. The song contains lyrics such as ” I drove my car to your house and/ Watched you undress yourself/ Through the weirdest way” and ” I can’t take my eyes off you/ No matter where you go I will follow too.” Stalking lyrics of this kind have not been seen since The Police‘s “Every Move You Make.”
Lyrics aside, Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With is quite the impressive album. The title track has every member putting forth their best effort, which equals out to the album’s darkest and best track. Alex Roy’s vocals reach a new high as he sings the chorus, while guitarists Toby McAllister’s and Mike Naran’s dueling guitars show that they are more than capable of writing more than catchy chord progressions. Bass player Ben Briggs is also a lot more present in this song than in other tracks, while Spencer’s drums stay consistently strong throughout the album.
The latter half of the album also contains some pretty strong tracks. “Vanities” is a nice change of pace that has the instruments taking a backseat to Roy’s vocals. “Holiday” is upbeat in a different way than the other tracks in the album. The acoustic guitars and Roy’s vocalization make the song reminiscent of a campfire sing-along. “How to Make a Heart Hollow,” which features guest vocals from The Morning Of vocalist and pianist Jessica Leplon, offers a more diverse take on the vocals, with Roy’s and Leplon’s vocals intertwining to create a more complete song.
The rest of the album also has its fair share of downfalls as well. “Better Side of Me” continues the subpar lyrics trend, with lyrics that are reminiscent of The Summer Set‘s “Girls Freak Me Out,” with lines like “Raising hell since she was sixteen/ Now she’s into cocaine like everything is okay.” Album closer “Thought You Were the One” offers nothing new to the album, which makes the end somewhat bland and forgettable.
Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With is by all means a summer album. The tracks are catchy and infectious, and while the lyrics lack substance, Alex Roy’s ability and the album’s hooks make the album more than enjoyable. Sparks the Rescue may not have gotten the success they deserved with their debut, but with this new album they have made sure that they won’t get looked over again. If you’re looking for an album to play this summer and sing at the top of your lungs, then passing up Worst Thing I’ve Been Cursed With would be a terrible idea.