Welcome To the No Fun House is an ambitious potpourri of straightforward, no-frills songs. The Peoria, Illinois-area rock/pop/indie trio Tina Sparkle’s tracks are threaded with some emotionally dark lyrical themes of family loss, courtesy of lLead vocalist/lyricist Marsha Satterfield.
The sampler-like tone of the 14-song release is clearly set by the long stretch of the first five tunes, as a whole referred to as “a long one while you’re still gone.” Playing like a mini rock opera with overly varied compositions linked together with no pauses, the fifteen minute musical arc tests our musical palates from the start.
With a song entitled “Reprise” to open the record, the listener immediately feels as though something has gone on before that we don’t quite grasp. The concept is interesting as an album opener but proves to be a challenging listen as a whole, offering too many varied musical styles to allow the ear to settle.
The standout track is early PJ Harvey-esque “Pinky Swears and Cigarette Songs”with chunky, fuzzy, bass tom-heavy drums and strong, simple guitar with vitally intense vocals, all simply recorded. Had the entire release been flavored more in this direction, the release would have been better for it. Some tracks like “Another Rainy Morning In Moscow ID” with tinny drum machine, clangy guitars and wobbly Mellotron sounds seem sorely out of place. The occasional vocal echo adds a bit of depth when needed, and while the simplicity of instrumentation and technique may have been employed to give the songs some breathing room.
With four years between records, it’s clear that the trio, rounded out by Satterfield’s brother Atomic (Tom) Satterfield on vocals/drums with bass and vocals from Chris Anderson, had a rich library of songs to offer; the release as a wholewould be stronger with a more focused musical direction.