Single Review: Sparkadia – Mary

By on Tuesday, 1st March 2011 at 12:00 pm

The name Sparkadia may be familiar, but this line-up sure isn’t. Sparkadia before was an alt-pop four-piece from Australia that pulled up their roots and moved to London for fame and fortune. The band released ‘Postcards’, which charted in the top 25 albums chart in their home country in 2008. But Sparkadia today is one person, Alex Burnett, who has decided to soldier on solo in the pursuit of creating pop gems.

Ok, so I admit it: the name of the single, in all its two syllable, four character glory in its subject line, caught my eye. I know I’m very lucky to have a first name that has appeared in so many popular songs, but as a result, any new ones that come along must prove their worth. Enter the Alex Burnett-penned ‘Mary’. Whether intentional or not, there’s a American/Southern-style influence on the vocals, dripping with blue eyed soul. The song begins with sultry piano chords framing the almost desperate words from Burnett, “Mary / I don’t know what to do / Mary / ‘cos every time I look away from you / you’re all I see…” Let’s begin the analysis. Two words. He’s smitten.

Or is he? The song continues and it’s obvious there’s something deep, dark and sinister going on here, as anvils clank morosely in the background. He’s begging her to save him, to “be let go”, to be forgotten and taken out of her memory. He wishes the relationship he had with this Mary person was something that had a beginning and an end, presumably so both of them could have closure. In comfort. Whatever’s happened, it’s clear it was painful and is still paining this poor man. He’s pouring his heart out into this song.

The problem: it’s a bit overproduced, overorchestrated. It’s a bold attempt at the power ballad structure with female backing vocals and percussive elements to add drama like exclamation points. As a result, it’s got an old time, dusty feel, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just not what’s on MTV these days. I foresee that it’s not going to be immediately popular with the kids, which means it probably won’t get a ton of radio airplay. Boo. ‘Mary’ has, however, appeared as a Q Track of the Day earlier this month, so with that I say to you: there is hope for popular music yet. Listen to the original and the dancified Royal Palms‘ remix of ‘Mary’ below – both are available as free downloads, how’s that for being forthcoming and thoughtful?


A limited edition 7″ version of ‘Mary’ was released on Valentine’s Day and is available now (however, note the label of limited edition and act quickly to avoid disappointment). It’s the first release of Gold Dust, by the people who put on the influential alternative pop night at London’s Hoxton Bar and Kitchen.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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