Whomp That Sucker

[RCA AFL-4091]

Correct me if I am wrong, but this is the same Sparks responsible for Kimono My House and Propaganda, isn't it? I mean, that sounds a lot like Russell Mael singing, after all, who could imitate his warbling caterwaul? And that is brother Ron's drywry songwriting and keyboarding, right?

No. No it's not. Not since 1975's almost tolerable Indiscreet has Sparks been heard from. RIP I say, if this is all we get from now on. More time was spent on the (admittedly funny) cover than on the music, and it shows. I'll let you know when I want to shell out six bucks for a photograph.

What makes Kimono and Propaganda so good and Whomp That Sucker so bad is pretentiousness. That is, the former's lack of it and the latter's wallowing suffocation in it. Where such songs as "Funny Face" and "I Married a Martian" would have succeeded had they been given lighter treatments, they die ugly deaths trying so hard to be so many things they're not.

There are good songs on this album though, a frustration present on most bad albums by talented artists. "Tips for Teens," the only worth mentioning, is a fine single, full of the self-parody and lightheartedness that made Propaganda such fun. Too bad there's not more of that to be had here.

- J. E. Sumrell