Sunday, 11 October 2015

Art of the Cover - FFS (Franz Ferdinand & Sparks) "FFS" (2015)

Great artwork.

Great album title.

Great bands.

Great music.

What? ... FFS, of course, is Franz Ferdinand and the legendary Sparks .. For Fuck's Sake!!!

Collaborations don’t work, or that’s what FFS would have us believe on their debut album. When the seminal Los Angeles duo Sparks and Glasgow-based quartet Franz Ferdinand decided to record together, it was a flawed and potentially disastrous idea, right? Wrong! ‘FFS’ is one of the strongest albums of either bands’ career!

After learning Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand were big fans of theirs in  the mid 2000s, seventies US synth rockers Sparks really wanted to record with FF - a band they too adrmired.

They finally got round to it late last year and the result is FFS comprising a twitchy lean rock sound with clever song titles and verbose lyrics shared often by Alex Kapranos and Russell Mael, vocalists from both bands. While not the dramatic makeover one might have expected, it does give a well needed shot in the arm to their sound with both rubbing off on the other.

The studio chemistry was immediate and the album ‘FFS’ took only 15 days to complete.

"Johnny Delusional" is chirpy dance rock with a slightly off kilter bent and Sparks' Ron Mael's insistent piano riff constant in the background. "Fasten your seat belts we soon will land, at LAX hope to see you again" goes the refrain on the martial-sounding "Dictator's Son" during one of several musical detours in the song. "Police Encounters" swings in a quirky manner, while the frantic dance/rock "Save Me From Myself" (with some intricately layered harmonies) recalls vintage Franz Ferdinand.

With no let up in momentum, other standouts include the synth-heavy "So Desu Ne", the singalong "Piss Off", the atmospheric ballad "Little Guy From The Suburbs" ("there are no heroes" goes the hazy refrain), the lovely synth ballad "Things I Won't Get" (which reels off a list of unattainable desires which pale in comparison to love), the satirically titled theatrical piano-driven "Collaborations Don't Work" (which meanders unexpectedly), and the ominous spoken/sung "A Violent Death" (available on the deluxe edition).

 'Kimono My House'-era Sparks fans will recognize how ‘FFS’ highlights their classic ‘pop rock’ DNA, and Franz Ferdinand fans won’t be dissapointed to hear the band at their peak of their powers as they bring their exhilaratingly unique and witty modern rock sound to the collaboration.

Very much a new project, FFS doesn’t truly sound like either band, but a striking and fascinating mutation. So in the right hands, collaborations DO work, and beautifully. The strength of the two bands is bigger than the sum of the parts.

Produced by Grammy-award winning John Congleton (St Vincent, David Byrne) at London’s RAK Studios. 


01. Johnny Delusional [3:12]
02. Call Girl [3:21]
03. Dictator’s Son [4:15]
04. Little Guy from the Suburbs [5:09]
05. Police Encounters [3:10]
06. Save Me from Myself [3:57]
07. So Desu Ne [3:52]
08. The Man Without a Tan [3:28]
09. Things I Won’t Get [3:03]
10. The Power Couple [3:02]
11. Collaborations Don’t Work [6:42]
12. Piss Off [3:55] 

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