Franz Ferdinand+Sparks=FFS? Yes, you heard me right. The collaborative album between an indie Franz Ferdinand and a synth/rock Sparks was never going to be a dull concept, and the two opposing groups show more similarities than you might think. The mutual appreciation they had for each others music prior to FFS set the foundations to an alliance spanning almost a decade, where they would collaborate on one another’s songs and, nine years later create, their self titled joint debut.
The opening single, ‘Johnny Delusional’, sets the scene for what the rest of the album has to offer. Tongue-in-cheek lyrics and the playful stomp of piano chords and harmonies, which give it a theatrical element – a recurring theme throughout. Both Alex Kapranos and Russell Mael wanted to create a single entity with FFS and share a distinctive yet similar vocal style. None of the songs are sung by either of them individually, making both vocalists difficult to distinguish and creating what seems like a third voice when they sing in unison.
Each of the band’s individual style creeps through in certain songs. For Example, ‘Call Girl’, ‘Police Encounters’ and ‘So Desu Ne’ hear the dominant synth wave push from Sparks, with Franz Ferdinand’s distinct vocals and bass style surfacing on songs such as ‘Little Guy From The Suburbs’ and ‘The Man Without A Tan’. It gives old fans a taste of the band’s sounds before they joined forces, whilst appealing to a new audience with the intertwining of both genres.
FFS haven’t taken themselves too seriously with this album creating a playful collection of upbeat mantras that should be consumed with an open mind. Keeping ‘Collaborations Don’t Work’ near to the end of the album lets the listeners decide for themselves. At 06.42, they have crammed in so many different styles that it feels like four songs in one. The dark piano that breaks up each part, turns into eerie synth, that is quickly accompanied by illuminating layers of strings. This feels very much like Sparks’ half of the song. After Mael’s operatic climax, we hear Franz Ferdinand’s second half, where more guitar and bass are introduced. It’s a marmite mixture of the two bands that you’ll either love or hate.
‘Piss Off’, their promotional single, ends the album with what you could call FFS’s middle finger to the critics. This is an album they have created out of camaraderie and proves that collaborations can work with the most unlikely of pairings. This isn’t a one off either, sighting to future records from the supergroup after their mild reinvention. The live concept is next on the agenda and it will be interesting to see if they do any alternative versions of their old songs and with more ingredients added in to the mix, this could be the revamp they all needed. Some may think this town aint big enough for the both of them, but it is clear they have created this album for their own enjoyment with the hopes of generating a new fan following that matches their new brand.
FFS is released on 8th June via Domino Recording Co Ltd.