The Sparks Brothers (2021) - 9/10
Okay so I’m not a Sparks fan. I’m not not a fan though, I mean everyone’s a fan really aren’t they. Director Edgar Wright certainly is and there’s a dizzying array of musicians and celebs declaring their love here, from Jason Schwartzman and Mike Myers to Flea and Beck. I could go on, but honestly the list would be insane. It’s not a full talking heads piece with people waffling on though. Oh no, this is an opus. I dare you to get past the 5 minute mark and not fall in love too. I mean deeply. I’m sold. Sparks are the greatest band in history. The end. Kidding. Not about being the greatest but this certainly isn’t the end, this is a full retrospective, but there’s a feeling that they’re once again hitting a rich vein. We’re taken from Ron and Russel Mael’s childhood in 50s California, an influential father lost early, the brotherly bond solidified, all the way through a baffling 5 decade and counting career. Wright paints a beautifully vivid picture with archive as the pair take the narration reigns and guide us through the early musical exploration and that really is a good descriptor, Sparks are explorers. American kids, influenced by European culture. Getting produced by Todd Rundgren. Tons of drive, creativity and setting themselves on the road to commercial highs and lows. Sparks are playful, funny, serious, eccentric and theatrical. Not very American. But across the pond, the UK took to them. That TOTP appearance of This Town Ain’t Big Enough For Both of Us. Legendary. You’ve got to admire their desire to do what they wanted, how they wanted. Never really in fashion and often diametrically apposed to it, but always able to find that avenue to keep things going. Working with Moroder and preempting 80s synth pop. Writing relentlessly, releasing 25 studio albums, 25! Weathering the storms, they are DIY kings, undefeatable. There’s is a truly great story. Want proof they’re brilliant? How about taking all those albums and playing each one in full on tour night after night. That is fucking phenomenal. They’re kitsch, they’re challenging, they’re brilliant and I’m off to see them live in a few months. Like I said 5 minutes in. I’m sold.