May 28, 2021
By Mark Redfern
Sparks (brothers Ron and Russell Mael) have shared a new song, “So May We Start,” that also features actors Adam Driver, Marion Cotillard, and Simon Helberg. The song is taken from the musical film, Annette, directed by Leos Carax (Holy Motors) and starring Driver, Cotillard, and Helberg. The Mael brothers co-wrote the film with Carax and wrote all the music for it (and also appear in the film). Annette premieres at the Cannes Film Festival and will be released in the U.S. theaters on Friday, August 6 before streaming on Amazon Prime Video starting on August 20. Listen to “So May We Start” below, followed by the film’s trailer.
Sparks collectively had this to say in a press release: “Initially, we conceived Annette as another Sparks album. Yet this time it would be a narrative story that would consist of three main characters, a small enough ensemble that would allow us to also present the ‘opera’ live on tour… The music, story, and album were finished and ready to go, which is where the story takes a huge detour. After meeting Leos at Cannes, we felt a real kinship, so we thought we would send him Annette, not expecting anything other than to show him what Sparks was currently up to. And lo and behold, he said he really liked the album and would like to consider it as his next project. We were happily surprised and elated at his reaction. As fans of Leos’ films, to now realize that he would be directing a film of ours was beyond our dreams.”
Carax adds: “I discovered Sparks when I was about 14 – I stole a copy of Propaganda from an underground shop at La Défense because I liked the cover. Not long after that I saw them live at the Olympia in Paris. Propaganda and their next album, Indiscreet, have been part of my life ever since. Their tracks are among the most joyous songs I know (although they’re poignant too, in places). For me, Sparks’ music is like a childhood home, but one free of ghosts. Without them, I don’t think I’d ever have done something I’d dreamt of doing ever since I first started out in cinema: making a ‘film in music.’”
Annette is not the only Sparks film to be released this year. On June 18 The Sparks Brothers will be released via Focus Features. It is Edgar Wright’s upcoming documentary on the band. A new trailer for the film was recently shared. It showcased many of the notable musicians, actors, and writers interviewed in the documentary, but also displayed some of the Mael brothers’ signature wit. The premise for the documentary is that Sparks are an incredibly influential band, and yet many, outside of diehard music fans, haven’t heard of them. The tagline for the film is “your favorite band’s favorite band.” British director Wright is known for his fiction films Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and Baby Driver.
Sparks’ last album, A Steady Drip, Drip, Drip, came out last year via BMG. It followed 2017’s Hippopotamus. In 2015 Sparks teamed up with Scotland’s Franz Ferdinand as FFS and released their self-titled debut album.