Acoustic Sounds


The Girl is Crying in Her Latte



Sparks the girl is crying in her latte

Label: Island

Produced By: Ron Mael & Russell Mael

Engineered By: Russell Mael

Mixed By: Russell Mael

Mastered By: Bill Inglot & Dae Schultz (D2 Mastering)

Lacquers Cut By: Joe Nino-Hernes (Sterling Sound)

By: Dylan Peggin

August 7th, 2023


Pop Art Pop



Sparks Provides a Musical Melting Pot with “The Girl is Crying in Her Latte”

with their 26th studio album the art pop duo continues to evolve

Sparks 2023Sparks, the duo of brothers Russell and Ron Mael is a true chameleons in the world of art-pop. Over decades, Sparks has musically shape-shifted through the realms of glam rock, disco, new wave, electronic music and chamber pop. Refusing to stick to one singular musical identity, Sparks kept a brave artistic face as music trends came and went. Thanks to Edgar Wright's documentary, a fresh demographic exposed to The Sparks Brothers are now beginning to appreciate decades worth of Russell and Ron's output, giving proper recognition to a creative entity still yearning to explore fresh musical ground.

The duo's total of 25 albums over the span of a 50+ year career is an astonishing creative output. Returning to their former Island Records home, the Maels emerge with their latest and 26th studio effort, The Girl is Crying in Her Latte

The opening title track kicks off the album with buzzing drone and pulsating bass drum, emulating a rave guaranteed to provoke high level excitement. The opening track's repetitive lyrics drive home an insistent message. Recent Sparks albums include songs that pay homage to artists in a variety of endeavors, including Edith Piaf and Igor Stravinsky. The second track here, "Veronica Lake" does likewise. Russell’s rhythmic vocal delivery and syncopated synthesizer lines produce a tasteful blend between the speakers.

Electric power chords pick up the pace on “Nothing Is As Good As They Say It Is.” The lyrics are from the perspective of a 22 hour old baby who has seen enough of the world and longs to return back to from where it came; who could blame the baby?

“Escalator”, about passing someone going in the other direction on an escalator, demonstrates Ron Mael's idiosyncratic songwriting stylings. The universal feeling of needing to escape life’s woes and trappings isn’t expressed by a human, but by the world’s most famous painting in “The Mona Lisa’s Packing, Leaving Late Tonight.” “You Were Meant For Me”, an uncanny ballad of pre-determined fate lays on the protagonist’s insistence that regardless of rejection, by coincidence or otherwise, the deuteragonist is meant for him. Chamber pop flourishes are heard on “Not That Well-Defined,” an anthem for seeking self identity and standing out from the pack.

Side 2 begins with a pair of prime examples of Sparks at their comedic lyrical best.  “We Go Dancing” is a percussive symphonic trance that serves as social commentary on North Korea with its “DJ” Kim Jong-Un, and how women fitted in uniform master the choreography. The amusement ensues in the taunting “When You Leave”: "They'll be breaking out the good music when you leave/They'll be breaking out the good music when you leave/The Stylistics, the Spinners, the Delfonics/And they'll keep on, keep on making out when you leave/They can't wait/They can't wait." Knowing that, the "object of the abuse decides to stay "Just to annoy them". A string section added to the break adds intensity.

“Take Me For a Ride” (in a Chevy Powerglide) pairs cinematic car chase orchestral swells and crunching electric guitar chords with dramatic narrative lyrics to produce cinematic thrills. The deftly arranged "Sunny Day", featuring strings and harpsichords that add a distinctive baroque flavor to the song's memorable two note vocal melody with added harmonies and panned counterpoint vocal lines helps deliver the album's highlight.

The recurring line “gotta buy some drugs for this girlfriend of mine” sums up the simple but dark narrative of “A Love Story”. The heartfelt “It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way” is a song about hope, resilience and staying the course when life throws unexpected curveballs. While most of Sparks’ lyrics are quirky and bemused, this song's sincerity is itself a curveball thrown by the brothers. The album wraps up with “Gee, That Was Fun,” which is perhaps the perfect Sparks closer with Russell and Ron bidding the listener farewell by reviewing their own album.

Sparks The Girl Crying In Her Latte

The deluxe vinyl edition features a nice touch of spot varnishing on the album jacket. Instead of cramming all the lyrics onto one printed inner sleeve like the standard version, the deluxe offers a 10 page booklet that spread the lyrics across and a generous helping of band photos to feast your eyes on. Clear vinyl in my experience tends to be problematic but Pallas manages to press up one of the quietest pieces of clear vinyl I have yet to hear. 

The album mastered by Bill Inglot and Dave Schultz is pleasantly dynamic and Joe Nino-Hernes does a tremendous job translating it onto vinyl. The synthesizers have a crisp bite, the soundstage is sufficiently deep, and the bass sounds full and well-extended. Clever stereo panning choices make for an exciting listen. Since the 1990s, Russell and Ron have crafted their albums exclusively in-house at their own recording studio. As de facto producers and engineers, they have skilled hands at making their records sound precisely as they wish.

What does The Girl is Crying in Her Latte bring musically to the table musically? While Sparks continues to embrace the electronic elements found in their work as far back as the late 1970s, there are also hints of the repetitive symphonic nature of Lil' Beethoven, the crunching guitars of Hello Young Lovers and the baroque pop flair of Hippopotamus. This album is a musical melting pot containing something for every Sparks fan to enjoy.

Music Specifications

Catalog No: 602455040046

Pressing Plant: Pallas


Speed/RPM: 33 1/3

Weight: 180 grams

Size: 12"

Channels: Stereo

Presentation: Single LP


  • 2023-08-08 07:13:19 PM

    Jeff 'Glotz' Glotzer wrote:

    Love that cover. I need to dig back into Sparks, given they re-invent themselves all of the time. Thanks for this review!

  • 2023-08-08 09:35:08 PM

    Michael Kaye wrote:

    Sparks are a national treasure. Make that international.