on 28 January 2014
Sticking to the same formula as the previous year's Whomp That Sucker (new wave) but with more consistent songwriting - Angst In My Pants is usually singled out as Sparks' best album of the '80s. The production isn't great (it's oddly muffled) but it's probably Ron Mael's best set of songs since No. 1 In Heaven. My highlights include the frantic Sextown U.S.A., the hilarious Mickey Mouse (which is actually sang from the point of view of the eponymous cartoon rodent) and the catchy Tarzan & Jane. A funny, silly time, and the cover's awesome!
Having surprised the glam-obsessed pop world in 1974 with their startlingly exhilirating and melodic blast of weirdness, "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us", the Mael brothers took their band Sparks on a very strange journey. Pausing only to invent the synth-pop duo (then leaving it discarded for Soft Cell and the Pet Shop Boys to pick up a couple of years later), the band released several wonderful albums of guitar-heavy, witty and supremely melodic gems in the 1970s. Then they met Georgio Moroder and spend a couple of years going "dup-er-dup-er-dup-er-dup-er-dup..." like some crazy offspring of Donna Summer and Woody Allen.
The early 1980s saw the core brotherly duo dispense with the synth-dominated sound and gleaming production, to return to their roots. Recruiting wholesale the American band Bates Motel, they rediscovered guitars and, coincidentally, their songwriting inspiration.
This album sees them at the peak of this second (or third) coming, with songs so packed full of hooks that you could... er... hang a large number of things from them. The title track satirizes the therapy-obsessed culture of the U.S. west coast to marvellous effect. "I predict" sees Russell making a series of surreal predictions, none of which seem likely to happen, until even his last attempt, "...and this song will fade out, I predict..." is rudely thwarted by the band lurching to a sudden halt behind him. "Moustache" is a tongue-in-cheek paean to face furniture, set to a blinder of a melody.
Some of these songs need time to grow on you ("Instant Weight Loss" is particularly challenging in the strain it puts on one chord for three-quarters of a verse) but will repay the effort with smart wordplay, stonking tunes and the complete absence of the irritating scent of smart-alec-ery that made They Might Be Giants so genuinely annoying.
From their next album onwards Sparks would begin to pander to more contemporary (at the time) production and stylistic fads and thus, paradoxically, become more dated from a current-day perspective. On "Angst", however, the band are tight, the songs are top-quality and Sparks sound their best here since "This Town...".
on 18 September 2009
Like my two fellow-reviewers I rate this highly, for all the reasons they outlined. Fantastic songs, with the usual wide variation of subject matter we expect from Ron Mael. Angst did well in America, when released in 1982, and the reasons are clear. None of the songs are long, they are all catchy, loud and crazy. Brilliant stuff.
on 9 December 2014
Another great early 80's Sparks Album.
This contains the fantastic songs I Predict, Sextown USA, Nicotina, Sherlock Holmes, Instant Weight Loss and Eaten By The Monster Of Love among others - in fact, they're all good.
Very highly recommended, another definite five star release from the Mael Brothers.
on 20 December 2011
Saw that this album was at a dead heat of 2-2 in star ratings (2 5's and 2 4's) and thought I'd tip the rating in the correct direction.
I was not going to do anything like this at first, but whilst routing through the many sparks albums on here, I suddenly remembered this record and had a vague recollection that it was one of my faves when Im into my personal annual sparks season.
Lo and behold, It suddenly all came flooding back. I want my own maustache,I want to play angst in pants very loud and i really want to laugh and dance at the same time.
Only this record in the entire history of recorded albums achieves this - from end to end (Flight of the conchords came close....but didnt quite tick the originality box.....)
There fore it is quite simply one of the best albums of all time and must be purchased.
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This is better than Kimono, lil beethoven and propaganda put together (and i rate those albums highly indeed - alright each of those are diffeent and from different era defining albums but still.......this one is the one I would pick if I had to listen to only one sparks album for the rest of my life.......touch wood this will never happen of course......errr..yes youve guessed it.im a proper sparks fan indeed.........)
If all else fails, this album will cheer you up....and right now, theres alot of you out there who could do worse than stick this on.......ok Pet sounds would work too -but this one would have that little edge called 'edgy weirdo, stuff it Im gonna sing what i like, but in cool and witty and very 80s dodgy hair-do way.
on 7 February 2003
Recently re-discovered my 1970's idols, the strange Mael brothers, and started checking out what they have been up to since I stopped buying their records (after the boring synth-pop of "N:o 1 in Heaven" from 1979). Well, you can hardly say the brothers have been producing stuff of an even quality. A lot of their 80's and 90's music is really bland and disappointing. But on "Angst in My Pants" the brothers were in a period when they went back to traditional backing with real instruments. The album has strong and catchy songs with great lyrics. The sound is powerful and makes me crank up the volume to the max. Like 1970's Sparks but with more balls! Some of the slower numbers are not so interesting, otherwise I'd give the album a 5. But songs like the title track, "Mickey Mouse", "Sextown USA" and many others really rock!
If you are interested in Ron & Russell but not crazy about synthesizer pop, this is where you should start! I've been told the same band (Bates Motel from L.A.) are backing on "Whomp That Sucker" that's supposed to be just as good, but haven't gotten it from Amazon yet...