Sparks Fly From a Kiss – S/T EP

New Jersey’s Sparks Fly From a Kiss is one of those hard-to-define bands that is best thrown into the melting pot of power-pop. The band’s debut EP is definitely power, featuring thick guitar sounds and strong vocals from Ralph Nicastro, formerly of Aviso’Hara, but there’s also a sense of melody, a focus on tight song structures and pretty texturing. Somehow, the band merges those diverse directions effortlessly on six tracks that feel all too short when the EP is complete.
The opener, “Beat the Artist” thrives on Nicastro’s attitude-infused vocals, but underneath that is some pretty guitar lines and up-tempo beat laced with a thick wash of distortion and power-pop riffs. The guitar lines and percussion on “Big Day Squad” are huge, layered on top of each other in a great big but enjoyable sound. “Stereo to Heaven” could be an Archers of Loaf song, for its irreverent rock bliss.
By contrast, “Engaged” is pretty, seeped in synths and featuring Nicastro crooning a la Jeff Hanson of m.i.j. The thick guitars underlying this song give it a definite shoegazer feel. The ballad of the group, “My Baby’s All Gone, Your Baby’s All Gone,” is a bit of a surprise, but it sounds sweet anyway, and after about four minutes, it explodes into thick guitars and a sweet, layered chorus. The closer, the aptly named “Sweetener,” is a sweet track, filled with chimes and slick vocals yet still possessing the band’s edgy guitar lines.
I was a big fan of Aviso’Hara, which I consider a tragically overlooked band, and so I was excited to hear a new band featuring one of its primary members. Nicastro definitely stands out here, with stellar vocals and guitars, but this is a six-piece band, which helps explain the great big sound Sparks maintains. Plenty of guitars, plenty of texturing, and a nice mix of synths really makes this a stellar EP, and I’ll be eagerly anticipating a full-length.