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Austin Chronicle Sidebar: Review of Sixteen Deluxe's "Emits Showers of Sparks"

JANUARY 20, 1998: 


Emits Showers of Sparks (Warner Bros.)

Imagine a sparkler, stuck in the cool sand of a beach. It flares upon lighting, and in the darkness, under a sky spilling forth with stars, its phosphorus burns white -- all eyes on the showering sparks. Lasts maybe a minute. Someone lights another, and another, until the little box is empty, and when it is, everyone is just a little bit sorry. Now what? Now, you play Emits Showers of Sparks again. And again, and one more time after that, because when this 57-minute major label debut from Austin's Sixteen Deluxe burns down to the crashing finale of "Captain Kirk's Z-Man House of Fun," and then spills over onto the liquid steel slide of "Mixed Up," the first moment of silence at disc's end hits you like dead winter nightfall. Never mind the squall tacked on at track's end, something's been extinguished. So, you play it again, waiting for the cacophonous intro of "Sniffy Woe" to dissolve into the heavy rainbow tones of the psychedelic opener. "Purple," a dead-ringer for Magnapop (Carrie Clark's deadpan voice over a wall of guitars and feedback), appears next -- bright and neon like the tuner needle on your receiver lighting up your favorite Breeders radio smash. And then you're swept away, floating out to sea on the narcotic grooves of "Let It Go," Clark's sleepy vocals curling up in guitarist Chris Smith's luminous mazzy starisms. The album comes in waves after that -- guitar mostly, Flaming Lips, Wedding Present -- riding a rough patch in the middle where songs don't matter as much as individual riffs, effects, and bashing rhythms. When they crash into "Mexico Train," an ominously rumbling trip to the border for more drugs ("empty as a chair, so sad, makes you sound stupid -- just give it up"), suddenly the whole vessel is tipping up towards the bottom again, and you're plunging straight into "Captain Kirk" and "Mixed Up." Again. Like the first time you were sucked in the hot orgasmic rush of "Warmjets" from Sixteen Deluxe's Trance Syndicate debut, Backfeed Magnetbabe -- or blasted by the atomic explosion that closes last year's The Pilot Knob EP, "I'll Call You" -- the bright glow from Emits Showers of Spark will draw you near like that sparkler on the beach -- draw you near, and keep you entranced all night long. Night after night after night.

3.5 Stars -- Raoul Hernandez

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