Thursday, November 5, 2009

Balls (2000)

Hmm. One step forward, two steps back, I'm afraid. Okay, okay--that "one step forward" is probably just wishful thinking, unfortunately. Musically, this pretty much follows in the footsteps of Gratuitous Sax, but it's nowhere near as good. It's not BAD either; it's just that even the better songs here are more pleasant than memorable. The exception is the great "More than a Sex Machine;" it's not anything all that different, sonically--a pretty standard techno-dance number--but it's damnably well done, and it features one of my favorite couplets in all of pop music, perfectly balanced and quite dirty: "You never sought my sensitive side/All that you said was 'ride, baby, ride.'"

Otherwise, though, eh--I mean, sure, "Bullet Train" is a fine enough fast-paced number, the title track is appropriately bouncy, and "The Calm Before the Storm" seems a little eerie given that it was released just a year before 9/11, but there's just not that much to say about this--it ain't hugely exciting. I give it a lukewarm recommendation at best.


  1. Bullshit.

    Balls was the true comeback, much much better than Gratuitous Sax, which had a few great songs surrounded by alright but not very memorable Pet Shop Boys techno stuff. The title track, "The Calm Before The Storm", "More Than A Sex Machine", and "Scheherezade" blow away anything on Gratuitous Sax

  2. My friend, you are wrong on such a quantum level that I cannot even begin to formulate a response. The notion that any of those songs even begin to approach "My Way" or "When I Kiss You" is such a fallacy that it makes robots go "DOES NOT COMPUTE" and shake and give off sparks (haha) until they explode.

    That said, thanks for commenting!

  3. Apples and balls. From 1984 on, comparing one Sparks album to the next is a subjective exercise since the only common thread to each album's sound is Russell's voice and Ron's lyrics (except in the case of the last three, which are joined together via heavy classical influence - thank God "Exotic" even breaks out of that a little bit). "Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat" is a definite Snoopy (my name for any song you can picture Snoopy dancing to), while "Music That You Can Dance To" is more futuristic and a brush with hard-edged stuff that they wouldn't hit again until, um, "Balls".

    Part of Sparks' commercial-potential problems (and part of their cult appeal) is that, while they technically have a "signature sound" vocally, otherwise their style is about as predictable as, say, Lindsay Lohan on a full-moon weekend. Saying one is better than another puts one squarely in the "if you don't like Ozzy you suck" realm of pimply duh-angst, and you might as well go jerk off to Megadeth albums and leave intelligent music fans alone. "You are wrong on such a quantum level..."? Like in every other area of life, ever, some will like some albums more than others, and it doesn't make them dolts. Lighten up, Morrissey.