Band of the Day

2012.03.03

Sparkadia

Grandiose pop music from an Australian singer and multi-instrumentalist
If the past shapes the present then presently I would be living it differently now.
lyrics from Mary

Sparkadia is the indie pop/rock project of Australian musician Alex Burnett. In 2004, Burnett and drummer Dave Hall formed a group called The Spark in their hometown of Sydney, Australia. The next year, two more members were added and they changed their name to Sparkadia. Working with producer Ben Hiller (Blur, Depeche Mode, The Horrors) in London, Sparkadia recorded and released their album Postcards in 2008. Following the album's release, Sparkadia went on a world tour and shared stages with Vampire Weekend, Pet Shop Boys, Hot Hot Heat, Jimmy Eat World, and more. Shortly after returning from the tour in May 2009, the other band members drifted apart and left Burnett with the band name. After the band split, Burnett traveled around the world and settled in London. He collaborated with songwriter/producer Mark Tieku (Florence and the Machine) to create the album The Great Impression, and plays nearly all of the instruments on it. It was released on US label OK!Good Records in 2011.

Humans are innately social creatures, so sometimes there's this natural sense of fear about doing things alone. Think about it: how many times have you seen girls go to the restroom in groups? If you're single, how many friends and family members have tried to set you up on dates? How often have you attached yourself to your phone to appear busy in a public space? Even Three Dog Night famously sang “One (is the loneliest number).” On the flip side, some of the best artwork is created as solo ventures. Eric Clapton become much more well-known as a solo artist than for his work with Cream and The Yardbirds. And who really associates Björk with her time in The Sugarcubes? Under the moniker Sparkadia, singer and multi-instrumentalist Alex Burnett doesn't seem to have any fear of making music on his own. Formerly a four-piece group, which was formed in Sydney, Australia, Sparkadia first achieved success with their 2008 debut album, Postcards. Shortly after going on an extensive world tour, and sharing the stage with bands like Vampire Weekend and Jimmy Eat World, Sparkadia disbanded and Burnett was left with the band name. Since then, Burnett has relocated to London, recorded with producer Mark Tieku (Florence and the Machine), and released the album The Great Impression. And a great impression he leaves, indeed. This isn't a lo-fi bedroom recording of some bored dude fiddling around with Garage Band while waiting for the pizza delivery guy to come. Burnett shows that he's a skilled musician, with songs that are both expansive and polished. These songs would be impressive enough coming from a four-piece band, but there's something extra-special about the fact that Burnett wrote all of the songs and played nearly all of the instruments himself. Alongside traditional rock and pop instrumentation, Burnett includes more unusual objects like gongs, scrap metal, and scaffolding in his songs. The album's title track combines this light junkyard percussion with '80s-style synths, which works well with his ethereal vocals. Similarly, “China” is driven by a clinking, metallic beat that leads into the type of soaring chorus that's meant for stadiums. By not giving up on Sparkadia, it's like Burnett knows his music is meant for bigger things, and this album is just the first stepping stone.