Super pairing

At the movies, the world is suckers for "throw-everything- on-the-wall" blockbusters - think The Avengers and X-Men films. Likewise, in the realm of music, supergroups have raised eyebrows.

One remembers fondly from the last century The Traveling Wilburys, corralling George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne and Tom Petty; and more recently, the Canadian collective Broken Social Scene, with Leslie Feist, Kevin Drew and a rotation of 10,000 members from other bands.

Others, such as Audioslave and The Dead Weather, are destined to be one-offs.

FFS are a different kettle of fish altogether. Glaswegian artrockers Franz Ferdinand and Los Angeles rock-pop legends Sparks are two decades apart in age, but united in hilarious spirit. It's a match made in Studio 54.





    4/5 stars

FF proffer sharp-suited melodies while Sparks sound on the verge of wide-eyed discovery. FF's Alex Kapranos is 26 years younger than his American counterpart Ron Mael of Sparks, but they behave like Luke Skywalker and his mentor Obi-Wan Kenobi, each bringing his A-game in the inter-galactic fight against cookie-cutter pop or snobbery.

And so it is: FFS frequently go out on a limb. They aren't precious, but they are serious about their mission to get you moving your old bones.

Songs come with blithely ridiculous titles - The Power Couple, Dictator's Son - that will please an art-rock troll such as Ariel Pink. Not everything works, but you won't begrudge their risk-taking.

"The man without a tan/he's a threat to you and me… And if he touched your woman, how the hell could she resist?" Mael intones in The Man Without A Tan with B-movie severity accompanied by a chorus of ahhs and jaunty percussion.

When all elements are aligned, FFS are indestructible. Collaborations Don't Work, hey, works - it is a gladly morphing rock operetta that struts like Freddie Mercury and pouts like Elton John.

When they get along, they are so utterly adorable, it's embarrassing. Put on So Desu Ne, a J-synth-pop tribute to a Nippon heroine with a "Hello Kitty Uzi", and I challenge you not to bob along and sing.

Resistance, as they promise, is futile.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 01, 2015, with the headline 'Super pairing'. Print Edition | Subscribe