– By Jessica Thomas
FFS — the super group collaboration between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks —released their debut, self-titled album last month; but this project was over a decade in the making. Both bands expressed mutual admiration for each other back in 2004, floating around the idea of working together.
Fast-forward to 2013, and both bands are playing at Coachella. Sparks brothers — Ron and Russell Mael — happened to run into Franz Ferdinand’s Alex Kapranos as he was on his way to the dentist to have a broken tooth fixed. This chance meeting re-kindled the connection between both bands, and at some point they got together and started sharing music. In late 2014 FFS recorded their debut, self-titled album over an intense 15-day period.
The self-titled album from the six-piece is flawless and funny, seamlessly meshing the sonic songs of both bands. Their songs castigate romantics (Johnny Delusional), the rich and famous (The Power Couple), sociopaths (Little Guy From The Suburbs), and other stereotype-busters (The Man Without A Tan). With lively piano arrangements, bold keyboards, and alluring guitars lead to a mash up of Broadway, 70s rock, and electro pop.
FFS is even sceptical about both acts teaming up. The ironically named track Collaborations Don’t Work is the longest, and possibly most elaborate, track on this album. Measuring at just under seven minutes long, the pace of the song changes throughout the track. The music keeps changing, but the message remains the same. Collaborations Don’t Work is funny, clever, and richly entertaining. There are moments when no one artist appears to be in control. The track rhymes lines such as “Mozart didn’t need a little Haydn to chart” with “Frank Lloyd Wright always ate à la carte,” proudly underscores it title by cutting together contrasting musical styles: operatic piano concertos, rowdy rock, and unchanged electro.
The album ends with the jaunty, impressively named Piss Off, a song about refusing to do what others tell you to. The song delivers the message that we should tell people to “piss off and leave you alone.” In the end, FFS is pretty much what you would expect a collaboration between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks to sound like. Though the album isn’t predictable; it’s an uncommonly smart album full of unexpected, yet delightful detours.
photo credit :FFS, LA Times