Unlikely but brilliant collaboration between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks which sees each band egg the other on to greater heights

FFS, indeed. Freshly-announced to the public earlier this year following much in-secret collaboration, this it-seems-strange-but-it-might-just-work fusion of Glasgow’s own Franz Ferdinand and Los Angeles’ arch pop classicists Sparks sees both bands fused together perfectly. The gaps in their respective personae are filled in with a shared love of bombastic guitar riffs and the similarly expressive, almost melodramatic qualities of both Alex Kapranos’ and Russell Mael’s voices. They lend each other youth, urgency and a sense of dignified gravitas, and each transfer doesn’t always go in the direction you might expect.

The opening ‘Johnny Delusional’ lopes in on ringing, typically Sparksian piano and Kapranos’ signature breathy croon lamenting its inability to find the right words to use. It feels as though the grounds of this collaboration are being tested for firmness, and very quickly found to be holding as the song builds into a quick, boisterous crescendo on the theme of yearning love as metaphor for this teaming (‘wouldn’t it be terrible if there’s no music there? / wouldn’t it be terrible if she don’t want you here?’).

Once the group have found the confidence that what they’re doing is working, it doesn’t leave. ‘Call Girl’ is a jittery, suggestive groove in the vein of Franz Ferdinand’s ‘Michael’, all assignations arranged by loading docks and squelchy electronic riffs, while ‘Dictator’s Son’ feels very much like the Mael’s with its dramatic, symphonic sweeps carried along on Bob Hardy and Paul Thomson’s typically meaty and hard to resist rhythm section.

‘Little Guy from the Suburbs’ is a soft, murderous duetted ballad in the vein of Scott Walker, ‘Police Encounters’ is taut, edgy synth-rock and ‘The Man Without a Tan’ surges on a most Sparksian musical reference to Liszt and one of those punky FF riffs which gulps up everything before it. Not every piece here is as essential, but each one bears plenty for lovers of assuredly eccentric pop and a skewed, playful sense of humour, notably the joyously self-referential ‘Collaborations Don’t Work’ and the careening, sweary verve of ‘Piss Off’.

FFS by FFS is released by Domino on Mon 8 Jun.

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