The Best of Sparks: Music That You Can Dance To

What were they thinking? How could America's favourite phony Los Angelino Brits squeeze out something this awful? It all starts with Curb Records' bizarrely misleading title, to which the Mael brothers hold blameless, but the title becomes increasingly inappropriate in that it is hardly their best work nor previously released material and it's only barely danceable merely at intervals (see also Pink Floyd's similarly unadvisedly-named A Collection of Great Dance Songs). The title track leads off well enough, and you can actually wiggle your hips to it a bit, but every other track just fragments into a terminal surfeit of dated New Wave overdrive. Even most of their former lyrical wit is missing with the possibility of "Change," here in its initial underdeveloped form which the band revised into a far greater track on Plagarism, and the minor hit "Modesty Plays," a reworked version of the theme song they did for a failed ABC pilot of Modesty Blaise. Low points include most of the album but particularly "Shopping Mall of Love," an ill-conceived attempt to recover that lost literary verve, and the flat and tedious "Let's Get Funky" which is anything but. The beats don't make sense, the slap bass is inescapable, the synthesizers are even more excessive than usual, and I've heard better orchestral hits out of my toy Casio. "Everybody say yeah! Say yeah!" sings a desperate Russ Mael on "Fingertips," but I'd just say "nah" and look to another of their albums. Any of them but this. (Content: mild adult themes.)