Reviewed by: Lara Supan
If you love Imogen Heap’s other albums, you’ll be delighted with this epic, flawless odyssey of self-exploration and personal reflection.
Sparks is a tour de force for Imogen Heap- a colossal three year, countless mile journey that ends with one phenomenally well constructed set of songs that leaves you breathless by the final number. Imogen Heap’s style is very unique and could for some be off-putting. For those who enjoy expertly written, inventively composed pieces that weave field recordings with onomatopoeia and such casual vocals that you forget you’re listening to someone who worked for years constructing just the right sound, you’re in for a treat. One warning about Sparks– you’re going to want to grab a drink and really listen to the stories she spins, because each one is so personal and specific you’ll want to catch every word.
It’s hard to pick favorites on Sparks, but the two that stood out as show stoppers were “Telemiscommunications” and “Propeller Seeds”. “Telemiscommunications” is a one sided cell phone conversation that keeps being interrupted and Imogen Heap goes from singing to spoken word throughout the piece to illustrate the inconsistency of her attention. She speaks to other people, loses her train of thought and even gets cut off a few times by our imagined conversation partner on the other end. This is an amazing example of how Imogen Heap can take an every day occurrence and shine such an artistic light on it, it’s like viewing it for the first time.
“Propeller Seeds” is the last song on the album, and it leaves you in such an emotional state you’re not quite sure what to do with yourself. Throughout the album she talks about taking care of other people, and having them take care of her. She talks about many fears, failings, desires and ambiguity about the future. This finale sums up her entire journey, leaving us with the line “Where does this story go, what does this story hold for us?” She sings of roots growing from her toes as we hear the roots in the background, she muses about the “hubbub of others” as we hear muted conversations behind her. It’s beautiful, real, honest, and brings you into the moment like no other artist can do.
There is so much more to this album than can be explained in a cursory review. Go witness the genius for yourself.