Imogen Heap
Sparks


3.2
good

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
August 22nd, 2014 | 20 replies


Release Date: 08/19/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Imogen Heap continues her dazzling blend of electronics and off-kilter pop, only this time the results come in a decidedly mixed bag.

There was a moment after ‘Propeller Seeds’ closed out Imogen Heap’s fourth album, Sparks, that I almost thought I was back in 2005. The sheer poeticism of the track left me dumbfounded and wanting more, while the keen delivery and knowing vocal inflections harkened back to the lauded Speak For Yourself. It was like being dropped inside of a reverse time capsule, and I didn’t know how to respond besides to replay the entire album. Click, play, repeat. I must have listened twenty times in hopes that the rest of the album would catch up, but Sparks’ fragmented nature never truly crystallized. I discovered other gems along the way – the dark and foreboding ‘Neglected Space’ sent shivers down my spine while the hopeful vibrancy of ‘The Listening Chair’ lifted my spirits – but it was also at this point that I realized the disappointing truth. Like ‘Propeller Seeds’, those songs were merely islands.

On Sparks, it almost seems as though Imogen Heap is hoping to stumble upon brilliance as opposed to having a vision and forthrightly realizing it through her music. It’s all very counter to her nature, because Imogen Heap has never really crafted a record before that didn’t sound one hundred percent poised and collected. It doesn’t help that the album is a little overlong either, totaling fourteen tracks. A lot of the styles attempted across that massive span simply fall flat, from the tepid opener ‘You Know Where to Find Me’ to a collaboration with deadmau5 that does little to incite any interest or curiosity. Perhaps I’m coming down a little too hard on Imogen at this moment, because branching out is an admirable trait – but the experimentation all feels a little clunky and flat-footed, as if someone was twisting her arm to do these things. Imogen Heap is at her best when she sings from her heart, and unfortunately a great deal of Sparks is instead comprised of her attempting to live up to some intangible reputation as a connoisseur of electro-pop.

There are definitely moments when Imogen Heap appears to let go and just write music. That’s what we see in the aforementioned ‘Propeller Seeds’ – a simple, genuine love song expressing uncertainty about the future (“…where does this story go / what does this story know) while shrouding it in optimism (“wedding rings, children…rickshaw, disco – goodnight kiss”). It’s analogous to her greatest hit to date, ‘Hide and Seek’, because it just delivers a message front and center. The added frills in a lot of her other songs do little to further Sparks along, they just attempt to embellish flaws by applying makeup. When Imogen Heap strips things down, she is capable of producing brilliant electronically-influenced pop.

Sparks is a record akin to its name. Speak For Yourself and Ellipse were ablaze with passion, insight, and creativity. This certainly has its flashes of genius, but it’s all too often lost in moments of meandering creativity - sparks amidst a dying flame. Imogen has sort of a multilateral reach going on into different genres – which would be fine – but these vastly differing ideas never really coalesce into anything meaningful. It’s just one thought, followed by a completely separate and unrelated thought. Are some of those ideas brilliant? Absolutely. Are there a lot of clunkers? You can bet on that, too. Thus, Sparks is an album containing its share of diamonds, but only if you’re willing to sift through the rough in order to find them.




Recent reviews by this author
Damien Rice My Favourite Faded FantasyTaylor Swift 1989
Zella Day Zella DayAndrew McMahon in the Wilderness Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness
Titus Andronicus The MonitorTigers on Trains Antarctica In Color
user ratings (18)
Chart.
3.3
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

I actually really like the track I embedded, it's definitely in the upper echelon of 2014 for me.

The album as a whole is hit or miss.


Digging: Low Roar - 0

Pestiferous
August 22nd 2014


1343 Comments


Maybe I'll get around to this, this chicks stuff is weird from what I remenber

ExplosiveOranges
August 22nd 2014


3904 Comments


Sweet review, Sowing. I'll probably pass on this one.

Digging: Millicent Waffles - Under Dark Blue Blanket

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

Yeah her stuff can definitely get a little "out there", but it's usually good in the same token.

And thanks Oranges, it's decent but probably weaker than her last two albums.

VaxXi
August 22nd 2014


757 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Ill say I enjoyed this more than Ellipse at least. I don't know what it is about that album but it just rubs me the wrong way every time I try to take a stab at it.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

I'd definitely give the edge to Ellipse. That album was far more consistent.

oldsoul
August 22nd 2014


109 Comments


Sowing, I always love your reviews.

Digging: Circa Survive - Descensus

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

Thanks buddy. Always good to hear. This is a little shorter than my usual review, but I feel like I was able to convey my main points.

SharkTooth
August 22nd 2014


6490 Comments


my 10th grade LA teacher used to play Imogen Heap a lot in class, I'm probably gonna check this out

Digging: Boylan - ima rockstar im not a rockstar

Shattered_Future
August 22nd 2014


1541 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Wrong.
I respect your opinion though.

playswithpassion
August 22nd 2014


276 Comments


Review sums up my thoughts on this album. "Propeller Seeds" is an absolutely gorgeous track though. Definitely one of her best pieces of work.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

Agreed. Like I said, there's definitely some gold moments here. It's just not consistent in any way, and when it's not on, it's really off.

ShitsofRain
August 23rd 2014


5956 Comments


i only care about singles so what's the best here?

ZackSh33
August 23rd 2014


366 Comments


Mmm whatcha say

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 23rd 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

That you only meant well? Well of course you did.

ZackSh33
August 23rd 2014


366 Comments


What did you saaaay?

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
August 24th 2014


50960 Comments


new i ogen seweet

Digging: Friendzone - Collection 1

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 24th 2014


16922 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2 | Sound Off

Has its moments for sure, let me know if you end up listening

PiedradeLuna
August 27th 2014


231 Comments


Ah cool... I haven't really heard anything from her since Speak for Yourself. So I'm hoping I'll dig this as well. Good review Sowing

paranini
October 2nd 2014


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Although I agree that it's a very scattered island, I really liked a few tracks. I loved "You know where to find me" and "lifeline" especially.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy