‘FFS’ Is Exactly What You Think It Is (Album Review)

That is everyone thought it was going to be what I thought it was going to be. Which is what it is. That would be zany and wacky “AF”, as the kids today say it, for the sake of not isolating potential fans.

But the zaniness and wackiness of it does not take away from the finished product at all.

Released June 9 through Domino, FFS flawlessly blends the styles of the two bands together. Both are known for their quirky lyrics, and those are not hard to come by here. Track opener “Johnny Delusional” perfectly illustrates this right of the bat, “Some might find me borderline attractive from afar”.

But on an instrumental level is where things get interesting. One of the claim to fame’s of Sparks is their humorous use of the keyboard, if humorous is a word that can be used to describe a style of playing the keyboards. It’s just upbeat and weird, but so that it’s funny and makes it work. Especially combined with the slick guitar melodies (I think I hear some funk in there).

Above all, it’s the split vocals between Alex Kapranos and Russell Mael that are perfect. The American and English accents blend perfectly when they harmonize, and when they go back and forth it sounds even better.

Sparks and Franz Ferdinand is a collaboration made in heaven. Their music is very similar, in the sense that this is essentially glam rock crashing head on with glam rock, and making… super glam rock. Taking each bands specialties and blending them into one, and taking their common strengths and making them into super strengths.

Here’s a short track by track guide:

1. “Johnny Delusional”

Nice piano intro, drums enter when vocals switch from Kapranos to Mael, and when they start harmonizing the track takes off. Also love the guitar on here. A classic Franz Ferdinand riff.

2. “Call Girl”

“I’d give up an Adderal for you” hahahaha. A deeper tone on this one but does the trick, similar arrangement to the opener.

3. “Dictator’s Son”

Kind of cool ballad about a… well a dictator’s son that doesn’t buy into the same belief system as his father and leaves for America: “Fasten your seat belts we soon will land, at LA X [like the airport] hope to see you again”.

4. “Little Guy From The Suburbs”

Kind of a low point for me. Mainly because Franz Ferdinand (and Sparks too I guess, and by extension FFS) is one of those bands that I’m not really into their slower songs. If you’re into them, then you’ll like this song.

5. “Police Encounters”

I can hear that New Wave influence from Sparks right off the bat in this track. Another quirky instrumental arrangement here that makes this song just upbeat, fun, and kind of funny.

6. “Save Me From Myself”

The keyboard intros honestly do not get old. And their overwhelming (well, right-amount-of-whelming?) presence in these tracks. Also some nice use of a cappella here.

7. “So Desu Ne”

More New Wave influence here. Wacky arrangement of keyboard(s?), synths, drums, and I think a bass to start this track off. So Desu Ne is French for when you agree with something (i.e., “it is, isn’t it?).

8. “The Man Without A Tan”

This is where the quirkiness peaks. The lyrics quite literally describe a man who doesn’t have a tan. The verses are split once again and the choruses are harmonized, and there are some strings in this song too, placed masterfully.

9. “Things I Won’t Get”

This is another one of the slower ones. The whole song they’re listing things they won’t get (and later ‘don’t’), including string theory and a chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames (the manufacturing people or something). Nothing flashy on the instrumental side.

10. “The Power Couple”

Again, fire intro with piano joined by strings and guitar, and some more vocal splits between the two lead men. Also some Queen-esque church choir shit going on here.

11. “Collaborations Don’t Work”

HA get it?

12. “Piss Off”

Had to make another fun one to close this overall fun and upbeat album.

“Tell everybody to piss of tonight” I almost do that every night so I love it.

Verdict: 9/10 because we’re all gunna die someday anyway.

Standout Tracks: ‘Johnny Delusional’, ‘Call Girl’, ‘Police Encounters’, ‘So Desu Ne’, ‘The Man Without A Tan’, ‘The Power Couple’, ‘Piss Off’.