I think Sparks had Beatle level songwriting for the first three albums. Sparks, Woofer and Kimono and hence they are the three best album. Some inconsistency and decline happen around Propaganda And Indiscreet. After the two albums Sparks ceased being great vocal melody songwriters with only occasional exceptions. Mostly they rely on repeating melody lines instead of continuous melodic flow.
Although saying that there were always consistently 6 to 8/10 level throughout their career so even their worst album have a level of competence to them (I actually kinda like Pulling Rabbits and interior Design).
I really do not find 00's Sparks to be particularly as great as I raved in the past. Once the novelty of "pop minimalism" originality wears off, I wished there was more songwriting substance to the songs. I find myself increasingly irritated with the spoken word nature and repetition of the Lil' Beethoven trilogy.
Also a Steady Drip Drip Drip may well be the worst album of their career (tossed up between this album and Ingmar Bergman). I feel the legacy of Lil' Beethoven's trilogy has destroyed Sparks with there newest release. Lil' Beethoven trilogy was often based on repeating vocal riff/melody. However they managed to still create a compelling album (Even if I don't like it as much as I used to) by creating interesting musical arrangement, supplementing the melodies by the instruments instead of the voice and giving the song a sense of dramatic arc. Rhythm thief and Carnegie Hall despite the repetition there is a clear dramatic arc, an emotional climax and fluctuation in intensity throughout the song.
I feel the last album has the repetition minus the dramatic arc or intricate arrangement.
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