Sparks return with new ‘provocative and challenging’ album

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

LONDON (Reuters) – U.S. pop-rock duo Sparks say they are still peaking creatively, putting out “provocative and challenging” music as they release their 26th studio album, “The Girl Is Crying In Her Latte”, this week.


Some 50 years after Island Records released their breakthrough album “Kimono My House” in 1974, brothers Ron and Russell Mael have returned to the label for the new record, which includes a song about late actress Veronica Lake and another about an unimpressed newborn wanting to return to the womb.

The title song features Oscar winner Cate Blanchett dancing in the music video.

“We want to do music that we feel is not out there, that we want to hear…We’re doing music that we think is really provocative and challenging but still working within the confines of pop music,” Russell Mael said in an interview.

“We have a history and so we feel a certain obligation really to live up to a certain standard…but as far as like surprising people, it’s like much harder to do now,” added Ron Mael.

The brothers, Russell on vocals and Ron on keyboard, released their debut album in 1971, originally as Halfnelson before changing their name.

Their songs, including “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” and “The Number One Song in Heaven”, and quirky lyrics have influenced many famous names in music.

“There’s a stronger bond to the band than it might be if we weren’t brothers,” Ron Mael said.

“One reason why we’ve been able to continue as long as we have is…just the shared vision of what we should be doing. And the other thing is just our roles within the band (are) defined…We’re not in competition, too much.”

Sparks, who kick off a world tour on Tuesday, won a French Cesar Award last year for their music in film “Annette”. A 2021 documentary about them also brought a new wave of fans.

“We feel creatively that we’re still peaking, but…we’re so pleasantly surprised at the reaction in particular with the tour,” Ron Mael said.

The brothers have a new film project, “X Crucior”, in the works.

“We’ve written the screenplay and also done all the music… they’re billing it as an epic musical,” Russell Mael said.

“We can’t tell much more specifically about this storyline but keep ‘epic musical’ in your in your head.”

(Reporting by Marie-Louise Gumuchian; Editing by Christina Fincher)