By Nneka Nnagbo
Walking into the dark and dimly lit, tightly packed venue, I felt suspense—a restless tension ripe with avidity and enthusiasm.
Clad with a keyboardist, a drummer, a bassist, and lead vocalist, and all the youthful embellishments and red mood-lighting of what should be a good show, I waited in prolonged anticipation.
High above the chaos of a chatty, between-sets crowd, the lead singer stepped up to the microphone to introduce her band—“We’re Sparklesaurus!”—and then came the magic.
Ottawa’s “living room dream pop” collective Sparklesaurus evade a firm genre sound.
“Nu-gaze, psych-surf fusion, solar flare,” Sparklesaurus lead singer Felicity DeCarle described the band’s concocted sound. “Synth grunge, kitten storm cloud, lo-fi glitterwave, melting your child-brain into a puddle of glitter goo.”
The amalgamation of musical styles that go into creating the band’s unique sound is as alluring as their eccentric name.
“We played around with a lot of different names before settling on Sparklesaurus,” DeCarle said. “‘Dream Soda’ and ‘Fruiterus’ are a couple that we seriously considered. But Sparklesaurus felt perfect. It surprises you and makes you laugh, while also breaking down the gendered-ness of two words. It’s flamboyant and rebellious, and conveys the point that femininity isn’t weakness. Plus we love wearing glitter so it just made sense.”
Sparklesaurus has only been making music in its current form for a year but their sound is potently charged and teeming with life.
In the past five years the band has seen some changes. Starting out as a three piece band in 2011 called Fliss, the band was made up of lead vocalist Felicity DeCarle, Colleen Jones (bass), and Shamisa Schroder (synth and keyboards). The girls played in Fliss together for roughly two years, off and on, before disbanding. In January of 2016, they began playing together again with a slew of new songs written by DeCarle. Since then, the girls have expanded the project into a fully functional band with the addition of drummer Brad Lapensee in February 2016.
At first listen, the band’s debut EP Perennials, released in July 2016, feels like humble, luxurious pop ballads diced with airy, twinkling notes—only, it’s more complex than that. Upon peeling back the layers of the album, Perennials is nothing short of astonishing. Sonically and vocally, it is wildly experimental, yet the song writing beats with a polished pop core. The album riffs on the band’s seemingly established recipe: slow-building, luscious chord progressions, comforting dreary guitar tones, and retro baselines.
According to DeCarle, the songs and the project as a whole were inspired by qualities of the human condition: connection, change, and finding strength.
“These threads are woven together by strong imagery and a satisfying element of mystery,” she said. “After listening to our EP, a friend told us, ‘What really struck me about the album was the way the lyrics and the music really compliment each other. The music definitely brings the lyrics to life and vise versa. Synergy at its best.’ This is what we hoped for in creating Perennials,” DeCarle says. “The interaction, co-dependency, and cooperation between us which produces something greater than us, beyond what we could ever be or accomplish alone.”
Aside from the band’s synergy, the blend of elegance and tenderness is one of the most enticing things about their music. It’s young, vibrant, and self-aware, while simultaneously unaware of its magical hold on its audience.
“We want to make music that is lasting and infinite in its reach,” DeCarle said. “This is also what we strive for with our live shows—we want consistent growth, rebirth, and continual artistic expression. We live to create, always, never stopping.”
Ultimately, the magic of Sparklesaurus lies in their ability to make music for dreamers and make-believers. This is music for sentimental, misty-eyed folks wearing nostalgia goggles. Their timeless retrograde songs prove that within the scope of this band and their music to follow, all that glitters is truly gold. •