Indigo Sparke: Hysteria

Indigo Sparke’s new 2022 album Hysteria should under no circumstances be confused or substituted by the Def Leppard 1987 album of the same name. Sparke’s album is a personal and intimate reflection on “love, loss, grief, a newly realized rage, her history, dreams, and the emotional weather patterns surrounding those sensations”; Def Leppard’s slick pop metal album was a shiny 20 million best seller, with the plea to “Pour Some Sugar On Me”.

Sparke’s Hysteria does have one thing in common with the Lep’s masterwork – both were built for “big stages”. For the former, this does not necessarily mean Wembley Arena, but more as “an expansive body of work…a simultaneously nostalgic yet clear and complex collection that expands her sound and outlook” after her 2021 debut Echo.

Sparke began work on Hysteria whilst stranded in COVID-19 quarantine in her homeland Australia waiting for her visa to be renewed so she could return to the States. Echo was being prepared for release, but Sparke was already experiencing a flow of creative thought as a result of shifts in her own life, moving through “huge waves of grief and trying to reconcile what was going on, internally and externally…. All the varied different chapters I had experienced, from heavy drug use to sexual abuse, love in all its forms, complex trauma and mental health, time spent living in India and Bali seeking something deeper to make sense of it all. It was almost like my life was flashing before my eyes. I realized I was in a profound altered state, as everything simultaneously stood still around me yet was flashing violently inside of me.”

The three pre-album singles all distinctly indicate the interior nature of this personal album. In “Pressure in My Chest”, the “echo of our love” poetically builds to the “wasteland of my forgotten screams”. The title track is a gently sensual stroll with an acoustic backing to “the promised lands”.  “Blue” is a cosmic road map for Sparke’s own journey in life, and gallops along at a confessional pace taking in family, the “dreams and screams” of rock and roll, homeless poets “spitting flaming truths about the world”; it’s an “odyssey” of the heart, an “ode to the luminous gossamer netting of history that catches and holds us all”.

Sparke finished writing the album’s 14 songs after moving back to New York in the spring of 2021, and then decamped upstate with producer Aaron Dessner (The National, Taylor Swift), who also contributes instrumentation along with multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily and drummer Matt Barrick. The layered instrumentation is well suited to the narrative twist and turn of songs like “Real” and “Burn”.

Much of the album is impressionistic, with an almost hypnotic pull (“Sad Is Love”, “Golden Ribbons”) and pulsing immediacy (“Infinity Honey”). Sparke has her own style, taking traditional forms and turning them into something new – pastoral folk in “Why Do You Lie?”, a solemn late night jazz shuffle in “Pluto”, the pop hooks of “God Is a Woman’s Name”.

Sparke entirely commits in her delivery, bringing passion and drama to “Set Your Fire On Me” and determined desperation to “Hold On”. “Time Gets Eaten” has a dazzling vocal. The distinctive and elemental focus of the music and performances with the album’s circular loops and whirlwind of sound may challenge listeners. It’s personal, individual music, so like each of us will not be for everyone. Turn it up or turn it off, but before taking any extreme action, take a deep breath.

BUY UK

BUY US

Label:  Sacred Bones Records
Release Date: 07 OCT 2022