Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Sam Sparro - Return To Paradise : Album Review

Four years after his Gold-selling self-titled debut album made waves in the UK, Sam Sparro returns with his much-awaited nostalgia-laden sophomore offering Return To Paradise.
It was released on the first week of June 2012 in Australia and on the third week in the UK and other territories. The album is available both on digital format and CD.

Return To Paradise rejoins Sam and erstwhile collaborator Jesse Rogg responsible for the former's UK #2 smash single Black and Gold and 21st Century Life (UK #44) both in 2008. His recent collaborators include Jono Sloan, Charlie Wilcocks, Erik Hassle, Greg Kurstin among others. 

The album boasts of retro-sounds infused with modern electronic execution. What we all get is a collection of sophisticated Funk, Disco and Synth-Pop tunes that declare why the last 3 decades of the 20th century would ever be the superior musical eras. Vintage pop lovers like me bask in the sheer brilliance of the swinging We Could Fly, Closer, Happiness, Are You Alright and the slow-paced faux-gospel Let The Love In. Distinct elements of the '70s and '80s are imbued on the tracks giving the right amount of nostalgia without being too far from the targeted contemporary sound. Creative is an understatement. I could spend all day raving about how Sam and Co. made the antique the new "new" in the same way i celebrated in 2003 when Dannii Minogue used the 80s blueprint for her most $ucce$$ful album Neon Nights. Not to be ignored in the list are the down-tempo masterpieces Yellow Orange Rays, Paradise People and Return To Paradise. Hearts Like Us stands out as the fresher-perfect-10 electro-pop anthem screaming for a single release and would have made a bigger impact than I Wish I Never Met You for a lot of reasons.  In the album, Sam exhibits once again why he is one of the best crooners of this decade. His vocal executions are most nearly perfect when he uses his chest voice. While he may sound like the legendary Prince on his falsetto attempts, the effort go forgettably passable to say the least and must be minimized if not  abandoned completely on his future outputs. Along with the commendable production, the songs' lyrics that reflect Sam's sentiments and past experiences embedded in rhymes score high. All in all, the 12 numbers steadfastly make four years worth the wait.

Preview the 5 best tracks:

The verdict on music:       Outstanding !   (8/10)


To date, 3 songs have been released either as singles or video promo. First out in January 2012 was the video for The Shallow End followed by the Belgian #1 single Happiness in February. I Wish I Never Met You pre-empted the album's release with it's video shown in late April just days before the album went on sale in Australia. No news for another single has surfaced as of the moment.

watch The Shallow End:

watch Happiness:
 watch I Wish I Never Met You:
The album has peaked in Australia (#41), Netherlands (#80), Belgium (F) (#35) and still climbing in Belgium (W) (#79). A US release is already confirmed with the date to be announced soon. Sam has already finished a mini-tour there back in April though after doing several performances in Australia. He has made the rounds of promoting the album in the UK as well but it is yet to chart in the Top 100. Just recently, he was in France gracing fashion shows and DJ-ing in a few parties. As part of his limited promo, he chatted with fans using UStream on the 28th of June and i was lucky enough to have thrown him 2 questions that he briefly answered!
  • Danniilo Alcobilla
    Danniilo  any plans to travel asian cities? 2 minutes ago
  • Danniilo Alcobilla
    Danniilo  wow! thanks for singing Hearts Like US acapella! hope it becomes a single soon! 14 minutes ago
  • Danniilo
    Danniilo  please release HEARTS LIKE US ! your best single off the album! 21 minutes ago
When i asked if Hearts Like Us would become a single Sam said that it wasn't likely :-(  but he sung some parts of the song acapella online which made my day. The second question i asked was if he plans to travel in Asia to which he replied that he would love to go back to Tokyo and may visit Hong Kong and Singapore! Other fans enjoyed the limited time and made the most with their compliments and personal dedications (asking Sam to greet friends Happy B-day, wishing luck for a statistics exam and even proposing marriage!). I managed to catch parts of the stream and jotted audible information that the poor internet reception could provide. Sam explained that the song I Wish I Never Met You was about a boy (not a girl) and affirmed that the video was indeed inspired by Janet Jackson's I Get Lonely after it was pointed out by one obsevant chatter. As for Madonna's MDNA album, he hasn't listened to it yet so cannot give any opinion. If he could bring back singers who passed away, they would be Whitney Houston, Sylvester, Freddie Mercury and Amy Winehouse... and the best thing he said was that the next album might be released next year!
2013. Now that's not too long to wait :-D . 
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