Domino Recording Co., released 5th June, 2015
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Collaborations, as FFS would have us believe on their debut album, don’t work. So when Los Angeles duo Sparks and Glasgow-based quartet Franz Ferdinand decided to record together, it was a flawed and potentially disastrous idea, right? FFS, you couldn’t be more wrong! ‘FFS’ is one of the strongest albums of either bands’ career.
The seed of FFS was unwittingly kindled at the start of the Nineties, when Kapranos discovered Sparks’ triumphant 1974 single ‘Amateur Hour’, the second single taken from their epochal ‘Kimono My House’ album. “It totally blew me away,” he recalls. When Kapranos joined forces with guitarist Nick McCarthy, bassist Bob Hardy and drummer Paul Thomson as Franz Ferdinand, they attempted two covers, one being ‘Achoo’ from Sparks’ 1974 album ‘Propaganda’. Kapranos: “We had such love and respect for their music.”
‘FFS’ is the unique collaboration between Franz Ferdinand and Sparks and was recorded during an intense 15 day period in late 2014 with Grammy-award winner producer, John Congleton (St Vincent, David Byrne, Anna Calvi) at RAK Studios in London. Very much a ‘new’ project, FFS doesn’t truly sound like either band, but a striking and fascinating mutation. “The real motivation was to make something new, not ‘Franz featuring Russell Mael’, or ‘Sparks with Franz Ferdinand backing them,” says Alex Kapranos.
The seed of FFS was sown around the time of Franz’s debut album when word got back to the Maels that the bands were big Sparks fans. “We thought ‘Take Me Out’ was very cool” recalls Russell Mael. “You can’t chart what is Sparks and what is Franz Ferdinand,” suggests Ron Mael. “I think each band unconsciously relinquished a little of who they were in order to enter new territory.”
“a classy melange of sweeping disco-pop, jaunty operatics and playful art-rock; often knowingly silly, but always seriously good.” THE SKINNY (4/5)