“The Sparks Brothers,” December 1, 2021, Netflix. See this film. For years I’ve seen Spartks albums at the radio stations I’ve been at. Who could miss the duo of brothers Ron and Russell Mael (one of the Chaplinesque mustache and almost skeletal presence, the other a boy-band pretty face). I’ve not been particularly interested in their music. This movie changes that as regards their lyrical content. It is brilliant. Musically, it’s still not my bag for their early albums. Pop and I have a fraught relationship. But lyrically, they are brilliant and hysterical. Watching this felt only one inch from Spinal Tap. Their more recent stuff looks and sounds more interesting musically.
As a duo, they’ve walked their own paths for almost five decades. They’ve created and dissolved bands, worked as a duo, toured, produced on their own, worked for labels. They’ve influenced many. They’ve managed to escape fame in the nick of time while riding a ‘hit.’ They want pop success on their own terms, and they’ve shifted musical gears with almost every one of their 25 albums. They’re real Californians who feel like they are English pop to the core. Wild and crazy guys with boundless creativity and sarcastic humor.
This documentary, crafted by superfan and director Edgar Wright, is really worth watching and will, along with all their many projects, yield yet another wave of Sparks mania. Tickets for their show in Boston next March are going for over $100.