Article: Pitchfork

Pitchfork (August 22, 2016)
The 200 Best Songs of the 1970s

Sparks “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for the Both of Us”

Decades before anyone used the term “toxic masculinity,” Sparks were skewering the concept on their 1974 breakthrough single. It took a bit longer for the band to catch on in the States, but in the UK, “This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us” drove their Kimono My House album to the Top 5. In its time, this was understood as a glam-rock record, and it was hooky and stompy enough to pass in the company of T. Rex and Slade.

In fact, it’s something much weirder and more complicated: Sparks’ songwriter and keyboardist Ron Mael and his vocalist brother Russell declared their contempt for stupidity and bonhomie. The title is a Western movie cliché, and the rest of the lyrics are a hilariously vicious indictment of dumb heroic archetypes and the hopeless dudes who try to live up to them. “Zoo time/Is she-and-you time/The mammals are your favorite type,” Russell enunciates witheringly. His voice is a full-on art-song countertenor, a voice that couldn't be much more distant from rock’n’roll machismo, even as Sparks’ rhythm section lays into the song like a back-alley kicking. “This Town”’s final glass-shattering high note is less orgasmic than it is vindictive. –Douglas Wolk

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