FFS – s/t (Domino)
Two bands, Scotland’s Franz Ferdinand and L.A.’s Sparks, separated by three generations of pop music, join forces to create a new band, in which they insist both camps are equal partners. This is not just the rock band backing up Sparks’s Mael brothers, who have spent the last 10 years ditching all rock instruments and writing arch satire set to orchestrally arranged synths. Well aware of the inherent pitfalls at work, this sarcastic bunch was confident enough to write a song called “Collaborations Don’t Work”—and prove themselves wrong in the process. There’s another song here called “Save Me From Myself”: apt, as FFS brings out the best in both acts.
Sparks’s discography is so extensive (23 and counting) that it’s hard to know where to dive into their bizarro rabbit hole, though 1974’s Kimono My House and their late-’70s albums with Giorgio Moroder are a good start. Otherwise you’ll end up picking titles based on their punny titles, the best being 1994’s Gratuitous Sax and Senseless Violins.
FFS, however, is an ideal introduction: the presence of concise collaborators reins in Sparks’s more repetitive and/or outré ideas—but rest assured that all their idiosyncrasies intact. For starters, there’s not only one, but two references to Jean-Paul Sartre here: with correct French pronunciation, no less.
The project dates back 10 years, when Franz Ferdinand were riding high on the strength of their first album. Word of their appreciation for Sparks got back to veteran duo, and a meeting was arranged around a tour stop in L.A. Talk of collaboration ensured and some demos were exchanged, but the idea lay dormant until another chance encounter at Coachella last year. Songs were written, rehearsed and then recorded live by the end of the year.
FFS was formed in order to build perfect pop hooks around lyrics like “Some might find me borderline attractive from afar” or singing a litany of “Things I Won’t Get” (“A chair that’s designed by Charles and Ray Eames”), and it succeeds wildly. For fans of either band, it’s a must. For the mildly curious or even the oblivious, it’s still a total blast.
Download: “Johnny Delusional,” “Police Encounters,” “Piss Off”