Wednesday 08th, July 2015 / 18:40
By Colin Gallant

ffsDomino Recordings

FFS is not the popular web slang acronym standing for “for fuck’s sake,” but it might as well be. Fans of both Franz Ferdinand and Sparks (see?) were caught off guard with the quietly announced union of off-kilter pop acts. Soon enough, they realized they shouldn’t have been. Both have a penchant for campy drama, effective hooks and distinctly Britpop construction. Yet, these two acts challenge their union on the hilarious “Collaborations Don’t Work.” While this song would never have worked as an inside joke, it makes perfect sense when the audience is invited to laugh along at the sheer cheek of it all. It’s essentially a shared-custody take on the two groups’ almost alike styles with the adversarial call-and-response to match. It’s the highlight that defines the difficult dichotomy of the forces’ meeting. Vocalists Alex Kapranos and Russell Mael have enough attitude in common to justify the concept, but sometimes a generational gap is still evident. Sparks have a long history of freaking out the normies whereas Franz Ferdinand’s job has largely been to make the everyman feel like a jaded, sexed-up club kid. In between lies a melodically sound if rather pedestrian compromise. “Johnny Delusional” and “Call Girl” split differences for pretty rewarding sing-alongs, but “Dictator’s Son” and “Little Guy From The Suburbs” are too subtle musically to accommodate the grandiose lyricisms masquerading the musicians as underdogs. There are moments where the listener can become convinced that this pairing really wants to make it work. In contrast, there are too many moments when they’re content to laugh it all off. Good humour comes from shared experience, but great pop music requires a little more harmony and inclusiveness. For completionists of either Sparks or Franz Ferdinand, FFS ought to make a salaciously delightful footnote. For the rest of us, it’s a point too easy to miss.