"...Lil' Beethoven is not simply another Sparks album; it is a masterpiece of pop art -- part manifesto, part, vitally, a critique of pop itself, and sounding as though George Gershwin, Phillip Glass and the Mothers of Invention had sat down with Tim Burton and decided to write a musical." - The Independent Review UK
As extraordinary innovators in the world of pop music for three decades, brothers Ron and Russel Mael (aka Sparks) make timeless music that continually evades categorization. Now, the upcoming stateside release of their new album, Lil' Beethoven marks Sparks' 19th album offering -- a stunning, genre-defying, nine-track opus which will once again blurs the line between musical commerce and art.
Lil' Beethoven sounds unlike anything found amongst the current radio drivel. This tour de force steers clear of the trappings of standard popular music, substituting keyboard-driven drums with an esoteric polyrhythm of layered string orchestra, piano tones, and Russell's upper-range vocals. Add to this mix some of the most clever lyrics ever penned for a pop record, throw in some carefully culled elements of classical and opera, and you've got the strange and exciting world of Lil' Beethoven .
While Sparks' canon of remarkably unique music may sound like it's created in a vacuum -- completely bizarre and unfettered by outside influence -- it has inspired and shaped a countless number of artists, trickling down generations despite being below the mainstream pop radar.
Echoes of Sparks can be heard on other synth-pop duos Erasure, Soft Cell, and Pet Shop Boys, while artists like BjÃ¶rk, Cheap Trick, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Duran Duran, and Andy Warhol have all called them a direct influence. Additionally, Sparks helped revolutionize pop music by being one of the first to fuse music and video in their 1974 promotional film clip, "This Town Ain't Big Enough For Both of Us," -- a driving force behind the revolutionary commercial art form known as the music video.
Besides logging six Top 20 Club singles and landing spots on soundtracks to hit '80s films Valley Girl and Heavenly Bodies , Sparks worked with luminaries Tony Visconti, Mick Ronson, Muff Winwood, and William Orbit; blueprinted the synth-pop and electronica revolutions in their landmark late-'70s collaborations with Academy Award-winner Giorgio Moroder; and were among the first artists to self-produce their albums incorporating new digital technology.