Release Date: Jun 10, 2008
Record label: Lil Beethoven
Genre(s): Indie, Rock, Pop
Bookended as it is by Russell Mael's wordless chorale vocals that help kick off the opening "Intro" and which recur in the soothing but strange conclusion to the final song, "Likeable," not to mention similar moments throughout the album, it's almost too easy to summarize Exotic Creatures of the Deep as Sparks' most involved tribute to the Beach Boys, late-'60s version. But as with nearly everything the band's ever done, one can't sum up an album quite as simply as that, and Exotic Creatures, if not as completely explosive as Hello Young Lovers at its heights, finds the rude creative health of the Maels still firing on all cylinders. The amalgam of orchestrations, feedback, and a new millennium's electronics evident in recent releases often sounds all the more integrated here, readily heard on the post-one-night-stand scenario lead single "Good Morning.
Looking back through the annals of their 37-year career it really is difficult to find anyone with a bad word to say about either of the Mael brothers. To gloss over the discography of Sparks is almost like charting the exact point where many lesser artists got their divine inspiration from to make music in the first place. If it wasn't for 1974's groundbreaking Kimono My House long-player it would probably be fair to say that the whole futurist/new romantic scene would have had nothing more to go on than the odd tired Mick Ronson riff.
The fraternal Los Angeles dance-pop-opera duo Sparks has existed for 37 years, pretty much within its own bubble. In that time, the Mael brothers have dispatched 21 albums’ worth of smart, catholic, often stunningly original dance-pop-opera, with minimal mainstream compromise or notice. Their production values have substantially escalated, but they’ve maintained their freewheeling dexterity, their Queen-like self-awareness and their hyper-focused humor.