Following the release of their debut album Colour Trip last February, the awkwardly named Ringo Deathstarr have compiled their early releases into one handy set, available on vinyl or digital download. Everything from the band name to the method of release smacks of a more-hipster-than-you snottiness, but what is on offer here is actually quite good.
Colour Trip showed us that Ringo Deathstarr are not a band who openly re-write the book, pedalling what feels almost like 'shoegazing' by numbers at times. As with the debut full length, the songs collected on Sparkler do not cover any new ground; there are moments where the homage to bands like My Bloody Valentine and Jesus and Mary Chain become almost painfully too close to the source material for comfort. At least Ringo Deathstarr realised that if you are going to rip other bands off, you should only rip off the very best.
That is not to say though that the songs here are not great. The wild cacophony of Sweet Girl, and the choking distortion of the lazy, slack opener Swirly show a band who know how to make their instruments sound almost uncontrollable. The guitars pretty much overpower you with waves of dreamy buzz saw noise. 'In Love' and 'Some Kind of Sad' pound through at break neck pace, reminiscent of Ronald Jones era Flaming Lips. It is noisy and seems not to care what you think of it, while also being upbeat and catchy, if you can hear it through the brilliant wails of feedback.
Put simply, overlooking the obvious homages made here, there is a lot to like about Ringo Deathstarr, even on these early recordings. Most of the time, when bands re-package and re-release old singles, it can be an easy cash grab with somewhat patchy material. If you are looking for something to dislike about this collection, you could say that perhaps more variety could have been good, if you do not pay close attention it can feel like the feedback laden songs run into each other and become indistinguishable. But really, Sparkler showcases the first steps of a very promising and noisy band.