The Seduction Of Ingmar Bergman


BMG Records, 2022

REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen


Originally released in 2009, this is the 22nd studio album from the duo Sparks, and unlike their earlier efforts, this album is meant to be listened to as a single piece, absorbed in its entirety.

It’s also their first venture into the radio musical genre, and it thematically surrounds an imaginary visit to Hollywood by the Swedish film director Ingmar Bergman in the mid ’50s.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

“1956 Cannes Film Festival” starts the listen with warm, calm piano before bursting into dense electro-pop ideas that are quite animated, and “I Am Ingmar Bergman” follows with sweeping strings amid vivid storytelling that unfolds like a movie trailer.

There’s often much dialogue across the listen, such as mysterious and atmospheric “He’ll Come ’Round,” as well as the playful piano and background noise of the quirky “The Studio Commissary.” “Why Do You Take That Tone With Me?”—one of the album highlights—then pairs hypnotic keys with an operatic approach that’s quite powerful.

Deeper into the story, the dreaminess of “Oy My God” balances tension and beauty in a very cinematic display, and “”He’s Home” exits the listen with a superbly upbeat and anthemic delivery that uses group vocals and a falsetto alongside the charming pop musicianship.

A body of work so diverse it welcomes jazz, vaudeville, polka, opera, and plenty of spoken word, in addition to the pop and rock that Sparks are known for, it’s really no surprise that the band planned to turn this album into a live show and a film version, too.

The album charted in Scotland and the UK, and was praised for its atypically scripted vision and musically daring appeal. This new version comes remastered on two pieces of heavyweight vinyl and is accompanied by a 12-page booklet with exclusive liner notes by Ron Mael; it will be sure to entice collectors as well as casual listeners.

Rating: B

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