Best Of Friends

sparkle*jets u.k.

Big Stir Records, 2023

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Orange County, California power-pop legends sparkle*jets u.k. returned this summer with their first record in over 20 years, and it’s a massive 21 song effort consisting of rare covers of bands they’ve befriended and been inspired from during their time in the underground rock scene. my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Best Of Friends has the trio in fine form and surrounded by some guests, too.

“Hold On Tight” starts the listen with fluid strumming and Michael Simmons’ bright and melodic singing, as Anthony Grisham provides his fluid electric guitar. The explosive “He’s Coming Out” follows with Susan West’s powerful pipes guiding Jamie Knight’s throbbing bass and Simmons’ thumping drums.

Further on, “Are We There Yet?” has Knight handling 12-string acoustic guitar amid the twinkling piano, Blake Martin’s well-timed horns and very pretty singing from West, while “I Want A Pony” places Joel Valder on drums for the firm display of their ’90s rock sensibilities that are still very much rooted in power-pop.

Approaching the end, “Good Sounds” brings a jangly moment of nostalgic pop ideas that are dripping in melody, and “Fantastic Pantsuit” exits with gritty guitar, a lively rhythm section, playful keys and Tisha Boonyawatana’s very animated voice populating the busy versus calm textures.

Available on CD or two slabs of vinyl, this is a triumphant return for a band who released a pair of great albums in 1998 and 2001 before going dormant. The covers include fun versions of tunes by The Masticators, Wondermints, Cockeyed Ghost and The Sugarplastic, plus others, and is brimming with hook-filled guitar rock that’s as timeless as it is memorable.

The band has always been and still is Susan West, Jamie Knight and Michael Simmons, and let’s hope an album of originals is on the horizon next!

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2023 Tom Haugen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Big Stir Records, and is used for informational purposes only.