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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put a smile on my face. No mean feat.
Well, they've done it again. I liked Lil'Beethoven. I loved Hello Young Lovers. I suspect I will soon be adoring Exotic Creatures of the Deep. It's a progression again, continuing the sound that the Mael's have defined over the last couple of records. There's humour, there's wit. There's catchy melodies and cleverly constructed meters. There's also a thematic sound. I'm...
Published on 21 May 2008 by Jon B

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shame!
Following the two best Sparks albums (the excellent 'Lil' Beethoven' and the almost-as-good 'Hello Young Lovers') wasn't going to be easy - and so it proves. I really wanted to like it; there's nothing unpleasant here or challenging for that matter, just proficient pop songs that don't hold the attention.

Reminds me a bit of Spark's 'poppy' output from the...
Published on 6 Sept. 2012 by AJW


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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put a smile on my face. No mean feat., 21 May 2008
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Well, they've done it again. I liked Lil'Beethoven. I loved Hello Young Lovers. I suspect I will soon be adoring Exotic Creatures of the Deep. It's a progression again, continuing the sound that the Mael's have defined over the last couple of records. There's humour, there's wit. There's catchy melodies and cleverly constructed meters. There's also a thematic sound. I'm not saying it all sounds the same, but almost like a concept album it's all coming from one place. The top layer is Russell's multi-tracked harmonies, like a choir of exotic angels, swooping through the repeating and repetitive rhythms of the lyrics. Below that is the beautifully constructed piano lines of Ron, counterbalancing his brother's melody. Then there's the sparse boom boom of tom-toms and the strains of cello in the bass, and violins through the treble.
The production is just beautiful, with an open and precise sound.
As with the last couple the biggest influence on the Mael sound (other than themselves) is Philip Glass, though there is also a heavy dose of Lou Reed in the Sprechgesang delivery of some of the verses. And I can also hear very clearly the influence of Brian Wilson's "Smile", especially in "The Director never yelled 'CUT!'" .

All in all, it is very easy to fall in love with this CD and it is destined never to recieve the acclaim or audience it deserves.

One point I would make is that the Special Edition (with Ron and Monkey on the cover) that I bought is anything BUT special. It's just a cheap cardboard sleeve for the CD and book, so assuming the regular edition has an actual CD case, I'd go for that one. And it's cheaper.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best Sparks album since 1975. An amazing return to form, 14 July 2010
By 
Scott Davies - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (Audio CD)
Sparks was one of the few bands in which I allowed catalog gaps in collecting their material. I had the debut album up through 1977's Introducing Sparks, passed on the two Disco albums, returned for the New Wave of 1981's Whomp That Sucker up to 1984's Pulling Rabbits Out Of A Hat. After that, Sparks returned to their dance music with the forgettable Music That You Can Dance To and Interior Design albums. When Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins was released, I was curious and ended up purchasing the album based on the hilarious song titled 'I Thought I Told You To Wait In The Car'. Unfortunately, I found the whole album faceless and dull modern dance music, and I hated it and disposed of it.

Because of my horror at the sound of Gratuitous Sax, realizing that Sparks was still stuck in their dance music rut, I gave up on them and had no interest in anything else they released. But then Exotic Creatures of the Deep was released. I looked over the track listing, and when I saw the song titled 'Lighten Up, Morrissey', I thought it would be worth a listen. What I didn't expect was the song would return Sparks back to a rock based sound. Guitars had returned, and the drumming wasn't all dancey. I found it highly catchy and it prompted me to sample the rest of the album.

Wow! I couldn't believe how good these songs sounded in the available 30 second bits I had access to. I promptly bought the album and was blown away. Here was the Sparks that I love. Not only does Ron Mael have an endless well of dememnted and zany lyrical ideas, but the music was much more attractive and melodic with all of the quirk that made Sparks so wonderful when I first began to explore their music. Exotic Creatures of the Deep immediately reminded me of the experimentation of 1975's Indiscreet. There were the straight forward songs like 'Good Morning' and 'Lighten Up, Morrissey', but there were brilliant experimental songs such as the quirky hooks of 'She Got Me Pregnant' and 'This Is The Renaissance'. There was even an excellent harder rock song titled 'Strange Animal'. I was very impressed, not only with return of the classic and definitive Sparks sound, but to hear how amazing Russell can still sing after all of these years. This album can easily sit comfortably along side of the classic Island years. I'm definitely open to any future musical offerings from Sparks, but if they move back into dance music, they might lose me again.

That being said, after all of these years of being a Sparks fan, I decided to buy No. 1 In Heaven and Terminal Jive. Being that they were from 1979/1980, I felt there had to be something that I would enjoy, if I could overlook the typical then-popular Disco sound. Having an open mind helps because I found that I enjoy 4 of the 6 Heaven songs, and even managed to pull 3 or 4 from Jive. I still cannot stomach the sound of Gratuitous Sax, though. But if Sparks can stay somewhere within this current sound, which is still a sound that is all their own, then I will remain interested in future releases.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 5 April 2010
By 
J. A. Purches "The Prof" (Worthing UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (Audio CD)
I am embarrassed to admit that 'Exotic creatures of the deep' is my first Sparks album. I have known about sparks all my life, but i had no idea
how fantastic they are as musicians, and being Grandpas to boot too. Show me a younger band that has this much invention and wit.
I adore the insane operatic numbers and orchestrations, like some kind of insane musical numbers gone bonkers. 'I've never been high' is wonderful, 'Good Morning' such a cool hit.
Sound quality is A1 - MUST be heard on audiophile gear - this one really shows off your sound system. The sound quality is super smooth, superb
resolution and placement, excellent bass when needed, a really super smooth production. After listening to some other sparks albums its clear these guys
are sound quality freaks. Dynamic range is A1 too - something that modern bands should be ashamed of, with their over compressed noise.
Je suis une new convert. I will buy more Sparks asap. Recommended!!!!!
I might add I downloaded 'Dick around' by chance on itunes, and its incredible.
These guys are cool. I guess its a kind of Yello, Queen, Bowie, mixed with Opera, no its none of these - its SPARKS. Go get it!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shooting Sparks, 2 July 2008
By 
Ace Music Lover (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (Audio CD)
Just after "Kimono My House" was released, when interviewed by the British Music Press, Ron Mael hoped to "Produce a classic song every 6 months".
Well chaps you surpassed that achievement years ago. This one alone contains at least half a dozen classics. Absolutely brilliant, melodic, powerful and in the case of 'Let The Monkey Drive', probably the funniest song ever. What is there not to like about this album?
NOTHING!!
When are they going headline Glastonbury?
Probably never-cos' no other band can live with them!!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars MAGNUM OPUS, 15 July 2008
By 
This review is from: Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (Audio CD)
38 years ago I heard this amazing band for the 1st time. I thought they were 20 years ahead of their time then & now, with the release of this album, their Magnum Opus, they have given the world an album that is up their with Pet Sounds as one of the greatest albums of all time. A flawless album of perfect pop songs. Congratulations Ron & Russ, this is a true masterpiece, like the song on the album "This Is The Renaissance", I stand in awe ........... the greatest work of your outstanding careers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, but..., 9 Feb. 2009
By 
Peter Lee (Manchester ,United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (Audio CD)
I love Sparks. My girlfriend can't stand them, but I think they're amazing, and this is another great album by the Mael brothers. But...

"Little Beethoven" and especially "Hello Young Lovers" were absolutely stunning albums, a real high-water mark for Sparks, and to be honest this is a tiny bit of a step backwards for them. Some of the tracks work brilliantly, such as the excellent "Lighten Up, Morrissey" and "Good Morning", which sounds for all the world like the theme tune of "Chorlton and the Wheelies", but then there are some really weak songs such as "The Director Never Yelled 'Cut!'" and "I've Never Been High" which spoil things somewhat. Then there are "Strange Animal" and "Let The Monkey Drive", which are entertaining but go on for way too long if I'm honest.

As a Sparks album it stands up well amongst their back catalogue, but isn't as good as "Hello Young Lovers" or "Little Beethoven", and newcomers to the Mael brothers' work shouldn't enter here (go for "Hello Young Lovers" or "Kimono My House"). Great, but not amazing - and that's what Sparks records deserve to be.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Where do they get all these ideas from?, 30 May 2008
By 
I. H. C. Mellor "mihcm" (Milton Keynes) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (Audio CD)
I have been a fan of Sparks since they first came onto the music scene in the late 70s. They have never failed to amaze me with their original sound and style. They are one band who it is almost impossible to copy, they are unique and amazingly after all these years they have bought out yet another (their 21st) album which is totally unique to any of their others. As always the lyrics are original and so tongue in cheek. Who would ever think of writing a song for a man to sing called 'She got me pregnant'? Or how about 'Lighten up Morrissey'? These are brilliant tracks as are all the rest. I never tire of listening to Sparks, whether it is their first album or the most recent. They all sound current, they do not date. Their first album 'Kimono My House' would have been a smash hit if released now. This new album will be a big hit and well deserved, it is original, clever and not only great fun to listen to musically, but if you listen to the words you can have a bit of a laugh too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Sparks masterpiece, 21 May 2008
By 
JB (Sheffield UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (Audio CD)
This is another wonderfully original album from the Mael brothers. Devilishly clever orchestrations lay the foundations for some superbly conceived multi-layered vocals. The lyrics are often minimal and make excellent use of the perceptual change that results from repetition. Listening with lyric sheet in hand, these songs are quite beguilingly witty. The production is lush and tasteful and is quite exemplary in terms of modern creative recording possibilities. Music producers should take a lesson from Sparks - they are looking far, far ahead.

For this listener Lil' Beethoven will always be something of a benchmark. Exotic Creatures Of The Deep largely lives up to that very high standard. Perhaps it's a little subtler, but I have a strong feeling it will continue to grow, like many of the best records do. I overlooked this band in the 80s and 90s but am delighted to have discovered them - they are set to be a lifelong treasure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ron and Russ do it again., 18 April 2009
By 
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This review is from: Exotic Creatures Of The Deep (Audio CD)
Right, let me place my cards on the table. In my opinion, World governments should channel a billion dollars into research to keep the Mael brothers alive forever. They are the most brilliant band ever and this album is simply stunning and here`s to (at least) another twenty-one albums, or LPs as they were called back in the old days. Ron combines great melodies with wonderful lyrics, as is his usual habit, while his brother sings the end product in his customary, flawless falsetto way. When you get a new Sparks album and listen to it for the first time it is like being machine gunned with musical bullets, the sound is unlike anything you will have heard before and your ears will be left tingling to a mixture of awe and humour. Even the photos on the disc are guaranteed to amuse. Amazing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the year, 28 May 2008
By 
F. J. Prado (Spain) - See all my reviews
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great album, funny lyrics. amazing after 20 sparks albums. album of the year, imo.
one advice, get the standard edition -- this special edition must be a joke or something, should be cheaper than the standard one. Get it only if you are a collector and must have both editions/covers
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Exotic Creatures Of The Deep by Sparks (Audio CD - 2008)
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