When Franz Ferdinand and Sparks collide...

There aren't many artists more suited to each other than Franz Ferdinand and Sparks.

So much in fact, that when the two bands had announced the formation of FFS, many people wondered what had taken them so long. As Franz frontman Alex Kapranos later revealed, he had in fact been exchanging songs with the Mael brothers since 2004 after meeting in Los Angeles. It may have been 11 years in the making, but it's fair to say it's been worth the wait.

FFS manage to combine all the characteristics of what makes each band appealing but the record never veers too close to Franz Ferdinand territory and neither does the supergroup fully embrace the experimental side of Sparks ('Collaborations Don't Work' aside). The interplay between the two frontmen especially is a joy to behold and Kapranos' smooth, hushed vocals are the perfect counterpoint to an eccentric and near-hysterical Russel Mael.

Almost predictably, the album's most memorable moment is a six and a half-minute mini artpop opera, the amusingly titled 'Collaborations Don't Work'. Opening with an acoustic section reminiscent of Jacqueline from Franz Ferdinand's debut, Kapranos announces "I'm going to do it all by myself" before the track shifts back and forth frantically.

Bookend tracks 'Johnny Delusional' and 'Piss Off' are terrific fun also, the latter being an almost perfect synthesis of the two group's unique approach to pop music. 'Call Girl' is an electro stomper, sewn together by an irresistible groove while 'Police Encounters' is built around Ron Mael's suitably grand piano chords.

Lyrically, there's never a dull moment, whether it's a Japanese girl wielding a "Hello Kitty Uzi", tales of a 'Dictator's Son', or confessions, "I gave up blow and adderall for you", "I've got eyes for the policeman's wife." This keen sense of fun is a thrilling constant and even the slightly lacklustre 'Things I Won't Get' and 'The Man Without A Tan' don't detract too much from the main event. Kapranos' described the two groups as a "strange new combination", and what a beautifully strange one it is.


Words: Luke Winstanley

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