With dreamy tenor and placid hearts, Sparklesaurus has been diffusing their light all over Ottawa for the last few years. Their highly anticipated debut album — to be unveiled this Saturday — harnesses sound to fuse our lived experience with the abstracted whimsy of the alternate dimension that Sparklesaurus occupies.
The driving force behind this unhurried, effortless pop album is Felicity DeCarle, the lead songwriter, vocalist and guitarist. Her composition style stands apart: a refined fracas of wistful, heady melodies, harmonies, aural threads and architectures. The whole band exudes a kind of consonance in and between their sound, like they fit perfectly together. Colleen Jones’s dulcet bass is undulating and true, Shamisa Schroeder captures the stars with her keyboard/synth, and Brad Lapensee keeps Sparklesaurus grounded with his percussion. Everyone sings to support the lead vocals to great effect.
The self-titled album was recorded on an 8-track in a blanket fort in Jones’ living room. “When we were deciding where and who to record with, we all agreed that it was really important to be in a relaxed, homey space,” DeCarle says, “So we essentially built a blanket fort in Colleen’s living room.” It doesn’t sound like it was made in a blanket fort, but the album sure does make you feel like you want to be in one.
The album’s otherworldly sounds lull you into a state of marvellous diversion. A collection of songs for idle days, or for feeling idle for just a beat. A mishmash of sonic signifiers that recall, but don’t rely on, the ebb and flow of familiar sounds made new again. Songs like “Young (Teach Me How to Have Fun)” gestures towards 1950s teenage pop ballad, turns on its heels and returns back again with pining vocals and swoony chorus. The album has its vocal lines soaked in reverb and synths that are at times nebulous, but with each filament seemingly perfectly placed. Other tunes like, “The Royal We” showcase the band’s instrumental capabilities, paired with auspicious lead vocals and courting harmonies, with ever so slight a hint of 1980s pop balladry. The palette of sonorities that the band paints with shades their sound into something simultaneously intimate and remote.
“Sprinkle on a Cake” was released as a single in mid-May in advance of the full album. The bass drum dance demonstrates the strong core of the band, while ornamental rat-tat-tats and melodic curlicues adorn its edges. The synth interlude effectively stands in for what almost certainly would have been a saxophone solo had this song been made 35 years ago. All around “Sprinkle on a Cake” is a bastion of good songwriting, great singing, and snazzy instrumentation that is emblematic of the album as a whole.
Sparklesaurus will be launching their self-titled debut album this Saturday, May 26 at St. Alban’s Church, 454 King Edward Ave., as part of the Ottawa Showbox Concert Series. They’ll be sharing the stage with Ottawa’s eerie country band Ginny, and heavy soul solo Keturah Johnson (Heavy Medicine Band). Tickets are $10, $12 at the door, music starts at 7:30 p.m. The event will also feature a thrift store pop up shop, selling finds hunted by Tall Pines Thrift, and a record pop up from the Record Centre.