Sparkadia prevails through challenges

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Derailed from once being a four piece pop-rock indie group, Sparkadia now glides among their contemporaries by the tones of the lone Australian singer and songwriter, Alex Burnett. Recently debuted in the U.S., “The Great Impression,” proves to be a landmark achievement for Burnett, who chose to take on the album as a solo project. It is a very impressive endeavor, considering he took part in writing and recording most of all the instrument and vocal overdubs, in collaboration with songwriter and producer, Mark Tieku, critically acclaimed for his work with Florence and the Machine.

Standing as Sparkadia’s second full length album, “The Great Impression” is a follow up to “Postcards” (2008). Even after splitting with the previous members of the band, and extensively traveling throughout the United States and Europe, Burnett managed to take the lead in producing an innovative piece of work.

The album expresses a reminiscence of 1980s style British pop, blended with flavors of independent American rock influence. Each track flows from one story to the next with a sense of silkiness and non-abrasiveness. The background and rhythm lays a landscape of sustained “clickity” rim shots; compressed and excessively reverberated, the dreaminess gives a listener of what seems to be an auditory love-child from the loins of the Smiths and Sting. Bouts of bounciness and standard tempo down-beat pervade the majority of the record with slight dynamic. Burnett’s haunting vocals expel a smoothness and mild tone.

“The Great Impression” debuted at no. 1 on the ARIA Australian Artist Albums Chart and no. 8 on the ARIA Albums Chart.

The first single to make the charts was “Talking Like I’m Falling Down Stairs.” This track uses a funky bass line to create breaks within the upstroke of a syncopated guitar groove. The song reaches a spacey chorus, full and swelling into ambience, stacked with bright mid-range keyboard melodies to fill out the end of a phrase.

“China” was the next to hit the charts, the fourth track in the compilation. The song displays a memorable anthem, showering a doused, but upbeat verse line to a heightened and filled out chorus line. Each verse containing a light tinny rhythm with what the record company reveals as the use of scrap metal.

Ahead of the album release, “Mary” was released in the U.K. The light tapping of piano chords with each beat within the measure builds up to a poppy melody strung along with jingle bells and the morphing of warm distortion.

The album includes recording innovations, creating unique qualities. “Love Less Love” opens with a sustained stereo swell, panning from left to right to generate a pulsing shift in one’s equilibrium. “I Started Something That I Couldn’t Finish” uses a technique of muting and plucking the strings of a small scale acoustic instrument, contributing a dissonance to the melody.

Yet again, an impressive indie-pop compilation put forth by a talented musician. Reviews have been worthy, and radio response seems to justify this in more than one continent. “The Great Impression” is now available in the states, under the independent record label, OK! Good Records.

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