Ron and Russell Mael – otherwise known as art-pop and rock duo Sparks – have been making music for 50 years. In that time, they have released 25 albums and made more than 300 songs, and they are now the subject of a new documentary movie, The Sparks Brothers.
Directed by Edgar Wright – best known for hit movies Shaun Of The Dead, Hot Fuzz and Baby Driver – the movie features more than 80 interviews alongside archive footage of the band to tell the story of their half century in music.
It’s not a conventional documentary – some events are illustrated with papier maché talking heads for example – but then Sparks are not a conventional band. Remembered for 1972’s ‘This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us’, 1979 disco hit ‘The Number One Song in Heaven’ and ‘Beat the Clock’, the Mael brothers are known for their quirky stage presence, Ron’s theatrical scowling (and Hitler-esque moustache, now replaced with a pencil-thin one) and their often mind-bending visuals that, added together, have gained them a cult following.
The Sparks Brothers features an impressive line-up of musicians talking about the band that inspired them, including Vince Clarke, Bjork, Flea from Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Beck, Duran Duran’s John Taylor and Nick Rhodes, Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore and composer Giorgio Moroder, while Edgar Wright’s frequent collaborators, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg, appear as the voices of Ringo Starr and John Lennon in an animated sequence.
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Shown at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2021 to wide acclaim, the documentary movie has received rave reviews, with Paul Byrnes of the Sydney Morning Herald describing it as “just as odd as you might hope but funnier than expected” while Jessica Kiang of Variety writes that “Edgar Wright delivers a fabulous tribute to Sparks, the band that has been the Next Big Thing for 50-odd (very odd) years.”
How to watch The Sparks Brothers
The Sparks Brothers is available to watch in cinemas across the UK from Friday 30th July, with a streaming release to follow.
You can view the trailer here: