Greatest hits: album reviews

Album of the Week review: FFS by FFS

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 June, 2015, 10:49pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 June, 2015, 10:49pm

Everything about the new musical "supergroup" FFS, a creative collaboration between Scottish art poppers Franz Ferdinand and cult synth duo Sparks, screams of a calculated cleverness. From the cheeky modern-day moniker and retro-inspired artwork, to both bands' wordy intelligence and fondness for a ridiculously catchy chorus, FFS appear to be a match made in heaven, but is the music just too smug for its own good?

The album was spawned from an idea more than a decade old when Sparks keyboardist Ron Mael sent the Scots boys a song demo, after their 19th album disappeared just as quickly as Franz Ferdinand's debut went platinum. The two groups' styles finely complement each other on 12 hook-laden disco tracks. As lead singers Alex Kapranos and Russell Mael share harmonious vocal duties, each band's influence can be heard more prominently from track to track. The indie rock groove and driving basslines of FF are more pronounced on The Man Without a Tan, Call Girl and the zippy Police Encounters, and Sparks' angular cabaret pop dominates Save Me From Myself and one of the album's highlights Dictator's Son.

The spiky rhythms of Franz's major post-punk hit Take Me Out drew its obvious dance influences from the LA disco duo, and as the pace slows on the acoustic shuffling titled Little Guy from the Suburbs, there's an almost perfectly balanced blend of both bands while not sounding typical of either.

Brimming with wit and bravado, the intelligent playfulness is further highlighted on the nudge and wink of Collaborations Don't Work, a mini-theatrical opus that begins and ends with Kapranos singing about doing it "all by myself". The album ends with Piss Off, Ron Mael's demo, a glorious statement that music can indeed be both fun and knowingly clever.

FFS FFS (Domino)