Another month, another quirky-line-up “Supergroup” – but hang on, this one works. It really, really works. Combining members of Franz Ferdinand and Sparks (geddit? – FFS!) the pair of existing bands work well together because, well, Sparks is a brilliant group. But lurks around the fringes. And Franz Ferdinand…whatever they had, and they certainly had something…they’re clearly fans of the pop-song and pop songwriter. Fans, too, of Sparks. And here, the FF agitated dance-pop provides a hop, skip and jumping-off point for people to take the plunge (back) into Sparks’ world.
Actually the FFS album reminds me of Devo’s comeback albums. Makes me wish there’d be another Schnell-Fenster album or that Danny Elfman would go full Oingo Boingo again (and really mean it).
It is also shows off those hooks that, as I said, Franz Ferdinand clearly had (and obviously, in some sense) still have. Making this danceable, likeable and moreish. Well, that’s what happens when a collaboration is over a decade in the making – and that’s what you realise the deeper you get into this album. These are songs-as-ideas/ideas-as-songs, songs/ideas that both sets of musicians have thought about and brought something to. And if you only ever remember Franz Ferdinand as post-Strokes coattail-riders you’re dismissing the fact that the band has continued on.
As we get into the album’s middle we’re starting to sit in pretty much Sparks-zone only though; recalling the Mael brothers’ best “classic” era work (think Kimono My House).
I’ve loved this album – and there’s plenty of laps around the track left too. Arch ironists, there’s even a track called Collaborations Don’t Work, it sounds like Ween channelling Paul McCartney at soundcheck. Then it sounds like Phil Judd in his twisted take on a torch singer. Then it kicks into a great slinky, smart-ass agit-pop thing. So, you know, it sounds like Franz Ferdinand. With Sparks. FFS.