Who but Sparks would release a bombastic song about being modest? “Self-Effacing” comes off their upcoming album, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip (out May 15th), and it’s just what you’ve come to expect from the art-rock duo: grand vocals, dramatic music, and pure camp.
Coming in on waves of “na na’s,” singer Russell Mael proclaims, “I’m not the guy who says, ‘I’m the guy’/Always been /Self-Effacing/I’m in the room/You won’t see me soon/Always been/Self-Effacing.” There’s something wonderfully enticing about a song that aurally flies in the face of its lyrics, something Sparks has been perfecting since and before their 1974 breakout, Kimono My House.
Frantically strummed guitar builds to an orchestral swell as the song progresses, crescendoing with the echo-y chorus: “And I’m Self-Effacing/And I’m Self-Effacing.” The bridge comes in on bleating synths — courtesy of Russell’s brother Ron — as Mael insists, “Thank you, but I don’t merit your praise/Thank you, but I don’t merit your gaze/Thank you, but I’m not up to the task/Thank you, but I don’t know why you’ve asked.”
An anthem for introverts everywhere, it’s a strong kickoff for the band, whose last album, Hippopotamus, dropped in 2017.
Find a playlist of all of our recent Songs You Need to Know selections on Spotify.