Franz Ferdinand recording with Sparks?! A dream collaboration, resulting in this new album. Along with early Roxy Music, Sparks’ TV performances still stand out when shown on the many music compilations shows from the 70s (thanks BBC4!) and their ‘The Number One Song In Heaven’ is prime-cut electronica from 1979. Franz Ferdinand continue to be a formidable live attraction (see my review on this site) and last album ‘Right Words…’ kept up their high standard.
The sixteen tracks kick off with ‘Johnny Delusional’, a keyboard-led stomper and from the start it is clear that this offspring has shared the traits from the two parents equally. ‘Call Girl’ keeps the energy up, then listening onwards you get the feeling that they are recording all sorts of styles and ideas, then without thinking too much sticking it on the album anyway. A commendable attitude indeed, this experimentation yields many delights – the most spectacular being the many sections of mini-operetta ‘Collaborations Don’t Work’, probably unlike anything else released this year?
Across the songs the lyrical subject matter covers modern obsessions, cultural touchstones, semi-obscure icons, death references (‘so many bridges in the world to jump off of….’) and the music jumps around unpredictably. ‘Save Me From Myself’ could be an Abba greatest hit and ‘The Power Couple’ an excerpt from an updated Brecht/Weill songbook.
It is all a bit much in one listen, but give the album time, you will be occasionally disappointed but in the end richly rewarded…