the thrilling & mysterious debut by frankie sparo is a dark & deconstructed affair, featuring lots of angular guitar, skittish electronics, and a throaty voice offering up the finest lyrical turns of phrase we've heard in a long while. my red scare is redolent with film noir atmosphere; vaguely sinister & paranoid at times, smoky & languid at others, the whole record exudes oblique intimacy and the unique sensibility of a true auteur.
recorded mostly in single takes, my red scare documents a diverse batch of songs that mr. sparo has been performing in front of a devoted and growing audience since his relocation from the west coast to montreal two years ago. with arrangement help from various musicians within the constellation circle, the pieces range from spare acoustic guitar accompaniment ("bastard heart", "the night that we stayed in"), to electric guitar & beatbox collisions ("my stunning debut", "here comes the future") and full-on orchestrations for strings ("the loneliest mademoiselle") and organ/percussion ("send for me"). frankie channels jazz & blues influences through his own inimitable sense of suspension & phrasing, full of deep breaths & pregnant pauses. at every point, the music is very much at the service of mr. sparo's strange & subtle poetic voice; brilliant couplets slide off the tongue, revealing a discriminating eye turned with clinical attention towards the secret hopes & fears of lives at the margins of social disfunction & disarray. frankie sings about mild betrayals, nagging neuroses, humble defiance borne of alienation & insecurity, the thrill & chill of insignificance, and the battle between empathy & antipathy that accompanies our efforts to break through isolation & loneliness. his tone can initially seem dispassionately ironic, but gradually gives way to a deeper sincerity as the songs sink in.