By: Derek Spencer
Bouncy and even-handed, Ender & Valentine generate ample energy on their 2014 6-track EP Sparks. Nadya Grace and Alex Crous function efficiently as a duo as they create pop-conscious alternative rock trysts with restraint and precision.
The opening track “Screens” introduces and relies upon the rhythmic motif of syncing palm-muted guitars with tightly programmed percussion. Alanis Morissette mingles with spacey late-2000’s emo as retro-textured vocals interplay and echo one another. “Fires” demonstrates the internalized indie-pop tendencies of the duo, complete with a single-line earworm chorus. Stand-out track “Wires” embraces a more recent fascination with shoegaze and noise elements. Together, the 6 tracks assemble a series of dream-like evocations not dissimilar from that of more electronically focused acts of the same genre.
While lyrics more-often-than-not use platitude and common-place imagery as a crutch, they do not inhibit the listening experience dramatically. Along the same lines, however, listeners will walk away with few thematic associations to remember the album by. Assuming the magic of Ender & Valentine lies in the moment rather than the memory, there is plenty of room within these tracks for playful romance and flirts with musical intoxication.