Sometimes it is better to sob into your flat white than cry into your latte, but Sparks know best. They have been on top form for long enough and with their legacy intact regardless of what major choices or minor stumbles they look forward to, the risk is all they have left. Sparks live in notoriety, in heritage, and yet still they push forth. Should The Girl is Crying in Her Latte be their final output, as it very well could be, it is a bold moment to finish on. All listeners can do is speculate. Fourteen tracks give fans and newcomers alike plenty to sink their teeth into or wrap their tongues around. Whatever it is that coffee needs. Chew down on it, take that bitter and heavy electronic title track at face value.
Incredible consistencies flow through as The Girl Is Crying in Her Latte pairs its first track with fellow singles Veronica Lake and Nothing Is as Good as They Say It Is. Key to these three tracks is the ease of access and the chance it has to introduce a new listener to Sparks as a duo whose concepts are wide and their style is wider. Heavy synth doses on those three tracks are key to the first non-single song, Escalator. Hoping to mount an electronic rise as the man-made machine, the retrograde fittings of Ron Mael’s instrumentals, the stilted and eight-bit familiarities paired with Russell Mael’s disconnected beauties, is a nice touch. An almost operatic momentum settles well on The Mona Lisa’s Packing, Leaving Late Tonight and capture this essential Sparks charm. Give life to the inanimate, its own little world in a collection of short spirals through heartbreak.
Much of The Girl is Crying In Her Latte is an even split. Either lap up Russell’s lyrical showcase or lean back into the steady electronics of Ron. Earnestly leaning into pop heartbreak messages on You Were Meant For Me works well thanks to its twinkling, upbeat specifics and skittish momentum. A pop at binary opposites on Not That Well Defined do well to deconstruct the black-and-white perspectives washing over the culture of the last decade. Headstrong and moved, Sparks find themselves battling with their longevity as they maintain themselves as still not well-defined. To their credit, they manage to avoid being pigeonholed into a particular style as they bring bombastic operatic displays to the Pyongyang-set We Go Dancing.
With their pulse on the fading life of culture, Sparks cut through and figure out their place in modern electronics. As they did throughout their careers, Sparks lead the charge. They are still at the front of all things solid and creative with art pop, although their recent works, particularly here, are stronger. Their heyday is behind them, their quality is not. Here it is, still sipping away on coffees and weeping for everything between modern horrors and broken hearts. Lovely mixtures, confident approaches and some career-best work for the Mael brothers see them chart an honest and intricate mix of synth powerhouses which depend on the well-worked vocal range Russell still, impressively, has. Sparks are impressive not just for their longevity but for their rebirth in new genres, in different styles. The Girl is Crying In Her Latte may be their best self-discovery yet. Gee, That Was Fun. An album ender, a potential final note, which does not lie and settles Sparks as an exceptionally confident high.