3 of 3 thought this review was well written
Everclear's Sparkle and Fade came out in the mid-nineties when the alternative revolution was in full swing. This is by far their best work, but because it came out at the same time as albums such as Nirvana's In Utero and Smashing Pumpkin's Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness it was overlooked and hardly ever mentioned. This album has the sound of a band that has not yet tasted fame. They had the experience of one (unsuccessful) album without the exposure to fame and money. All of this went into the studio to make one of the best alternative rock albums of the nineties.
Electra Made Me Blind - 3:43
The album kicks off with a fast paced, catchy guitar riff and Art Alexakis' addictive vocals. This song is a story about some one who travels to L.A. to live out a big dream. After that, they meet Electra, a troubled person. You've heard the story before, troubled past, big dream, getting into drugs. This is where the story stops (for this song anyway). The guitar riff is put through electric-sounding effects, the breakdown is awesome and the song is surprisingly fast paced and catchy for being one of the longest songs on the album.
Heroin Girl - 2:23
Electra Made Me Blind leads right into this song. It starts out with just guitar and vocals and pretty soon the bass and drums kick in and make this the hardest song on the album. You can almost say this picks up the story of Electra Made Me Blind: the song is a real story about front man Art Alexakis' girlfriend who died from a drug overdose. The song is pieced together with riffs, the vocals are basic, and the lyrics are of a haunting memory you hear in many Everclear songs. The guitar solo blends seamlessly with the song and can hardly be counted as a guitar solo since the song moves just as well without it. The rhythm section doesn't shine in this song but this is a great song (especially for a single.)
You Make Me Feel Like A Whore - 2:47
Yes, this song has a funny title, but it's the first time on the album you hear the rhythm section come out. You can hear the fingers move up and down the scratchy guitar, and you can hear the bass above that. The song is about trying to please some one. It's about obsessing over them, giving them the upper hand and you just feel like a whore. This is also the song when Art's vocals stand out; you don't get the sense of helplessness from the lines "I hate the way I am around you; I'm so nervous and weird. You make me feel like I'm breathing underwater." unless you hear him sing it. The guitar solo is, again, simple, the music is simple, the concept is simple, and the song repeats the line, "You make me feel like a whore". What's not to love?
Santa Monica - 3:11
The main single on the album, the song that launched Everclear to fame, and the song they still play on the radio. With its repetitive, scratchy, and catchy guitar riff for the verse, the song draws you in. If you pay close enough attention, you hear the bass keeping the song moving, and keeping the song from getting too country. This is a simple, upbeat song about getting away. Itís not quite as special as the rest of the album, but this is probably the song that got you to buy the album. A great song, it just doesn't live up to some of the other songs on the album.
Summerland - 3:42
You just heard a pretty good upbeat song about getting away, what's the next thing you want to hear? It's probably an amazing downbeat song about getting away. This is probably Everclear's best song. It starts out with the drums making atmosphere, then the guitar put through effects comes in making a perfect atmosphere. The lyrics are amazing, the vocals sounds like they were sung while lying on the couch. The song has nothing forced or overdriven or energetic until Art screams, "no one really gives a F*CK about us anyway!" You hear some of Everclear's signature bell/siren in the song. You also hear some signature bass line: simple but keeping the song moving. There are hardly any words that can do this song justice unless you hear it. The lyrics are outstanding. The song gave the album it's title, and rightfully so. Though this never took off as a single, it is undoubtedly the best song on the album.
Strawberry - 2:35
As I said, no song on the album gets close to topping Summerland, but this song comes closest. As many know, Art saw both his girlfriend and his brother kick it due to drugs, which inspired him to quit. On the liner notes of Everclear's greatest hits album Art said this song was written about a vivid dream in which he started drugs again. This is probably the most poetic song on the album. This song has Everclear's signature downbeat, guitar effects, simple music, and heavy subject matter. After you hear, "yes I guess I F*CKed up again!" and then hear the breakdown you realize that this is classic Everclear. This song can describe the entire spirit of the album.
Heartspark Dollersign - 2:52
This is yet another single and yet another song taken from real experiences in the life of Art Alexakis. He was a white boy who grew up in a black neighborhood and that was a bit of a problem when he started dating. The song begins with some cool guitar effects and a short riffs. Then the bass kicks in and makes the song somewhat upbeat. This is a great song with sweet lyrics and music that fits it all perfectly. But, this is a pretty average song overall. (That's not a bad thing!)
The Twistinside - 4:37
This is the longest song on the album. But that's okay; you need to take time when the song is about growing up. This song is written on/about the verge of turning into a grown up. This is another sweet song with guitar effects and a bass you don't notice until the breakdown shows you that it's the backbone of the song. About half way into the song the song matures and the sweet guitar effects and lyrics are overdriven by heavier guitars and bass. The drums are nothing spectacular in this song since they usually work with the guitar or bass but the guitar and bass work together magnificently. After the breakdown the song just kind of loses all vocals and kicks into pure music. This is a little bit complicated for an Everclear song. Overall, this song transitions smoothly in the middle and is easy to get lost in.
Her Brand New Skin - 2:02
This is one of the shortest songs on the album but I'm not complaining.
It's basically about being an individually and not living in repetition even if it's comfortable. The bass and drums work well together in this song. It keeps the song upbeat and the effect-less clean and scratchy guitar helps. The entire song is just plain catchy. Short, simple, not the best, catchy. Overall, Everclear has better short songs....
Nehalem - 1:53
This is the second shortest song on the album, and much better than the song before it. This is basically a fast-paced unstructured song about leaving a small town.This is a song where the drums shine the whole time. This is the most upbeat and catchy song of the whole album. It is truly enjoyable to listen to, you won't know until you hear it.
Queen of the Air - 2:59
This song opens up with drums and then the same old Everclear comes in. Some sweet guitar, the bass backbone, and the drums weaving in and out of the spotlight. After the verse the song decides not to be soft and sweet anymore. The lyrics are all about the mystery of a dream of a redheaded woman on the bridge and then jumping off. By the end of the song, you find out the myster in, "pictures and headlines hidden away". The boy in the song was lied to about their mom and she had committed suicide when he was three. After the breakdown of the song (which includes some of the best bass work on the album) the instruments just carry you slowly out of it and into the next song. Like most songs on the album talking about them won't do any justice, you just have to hear this song.
Pale Green Stars - 4:17
60% of American marriages (as of the nineties) end in divorce. You can already guess what type of guitar is in this song. Sweet, pretty, about a little girl whose parents fight all of the time. An emotionally charged song. The only real complaint is that it's too long. This is a great song, the bass keeps it going, the guitar keeps the mood, and the drums help the atmosphere. The lyrics and vocals are the highlight of the song.
Chemical Smile - 1:49
This is a heavy, but upbeat song driven by riffs. This is the shortest song on the album, and it's just about a girl that's pretty weird but happy. Just a song that isn't too good, but you can't help but love it. This is one song that's never skipped when I listen to the album. The bass, drums, and guitar play their usual parts. Bass: backbone. Drums: atmosphere. Guitar: riffs. Short, upbeat, and just plain fun.
My Sexual Life - 3:49
The guitar uses many effects similar to the beginning of the album. The bass comes in keeping the song steady, making sure you actually listen to the whole thing. The drums kick in and the song is pretty much stuck in that loop. The song stays true to the title. It's just like a Sex in the City episode put into some music loop. This is the lowest point of the album, it should have just been a hidden track.
There you are. But, of course, reading about the album isn't quite good enough, go out and buy it! If you love the nineties or alternative music at all this is a "must have" album.