Franz Ferdinand + Sparks = FFS

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Franz Ferdinand and Sparks | Presented by Radio 104.5

OPENING ACT(s): The Intelligence

Sat 10/3

8:00pm
Electric Factory
— $35 - 40 | All Ages

Biography

Collaborations, as FFS would have us believe on their debut album, don’t work. You start off deferential, and strangely reverential – and eventually, you’ll need the Dalai Lama to mediate, between all the patronising, agonising, navel-gazing and differences in work ethic. So when Los Angeles duo Sparks and Glasgow-based quartet Franz Ferdinand decided to record together, it was a flawed and potentially disastrous idea, right? FFS, you couldn’t be more wrong! Not only is ‘Collaborations Don’t Work’ one of the star attractions of the self-titled record that sprang from their collective loins but ‘FFS’ is also one of the strongest albums of either bands’ career. The love of artful corkscrew pop that created a mutual appreciation society kicks off with the lead single ‘Johnny Delusional’ and its soon-come successor ‘Call Girl’, though the hooks driving ‘Police Encounters’, ‘So Desu Ne’ and ‘Piss Off’ are no less fabulous and merciless. This dynamic thrill is countered by the subtler charms of ‘Dictator’s Son’ and ‘Little Guy From The Suburbs’, the haughtier ‘The Power Couple’ and ‘Collaborations Don’t Work’ itself, a multi-tiered quasi-musical that shows off the compositional ambition and savvy humour that defines ‘FFS’. Moreover, there might be recognisable sonic devices that identify the provenance of these works (for starters, there are few more recognisable instruments than Sparks vocalist Russell Mael), FFS’ happy marriage doesn’t truly sound like either band, but a striking and fascinating mutation. “The real motivation was to make something new, not ‘Franz featuring Russell Mael’, or ‘Sparks with Franz Ferdinand backing them’,” declares FF frontman Alex Kapranos, whose intertwining lead vocals with Russell is another of the record’s principal thrills, like a male version of the Abba approach. “As we started sending songs back and forth, I noticed I was writing from my idea of a Sparks perspective, and what they sent struck us as how they think Franz Ferdinand sounds. That gave everyone something new to work with.”

Videos

  • The Intelligence

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    Around since 1999, The Intelligence has released seven singles, five split singles, two EPs, seven albums and have made eight compilation appearances. They join the ranks of hyper-prolific artists like Thee Oh Sees and Ty Segall in the impossible-to-stay-on-top-of department. Like the aforementioned artists, The Intelligence continue to evolve, grow artistically and top themselves with each release. And, yes, you do need to keep up with all the releases. With Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me, The Intelligence do indeed top themselves. As with their previous album, Males from 2010, they returned to The Hangar with Chris Woodhouse to record, and they continue to jettison their deliberately blown-out, lo-fi recording approach for a much clearer sound. Not that there’s any loss of intensity. The band’s scrambling post-punk guitars, dry-as-a-bone drums and laconically abstract verses are all here, viewed through an unusually clear lens. If one didn’t have the songs or the chops, this sort of thing could reveal weakness but here it highlights their knack for catchy songs that incorporate pop hooks, metronomically repetitive guitar riffs, and new wavey synth moves. For those who haven’t been paying attention, The Intelligence are the brainchild of Lars Finberg (formerly of A-Frames and Thee Oh Sees, currently of Wounded Lion and Puberty). Initially a studio project in which Finberg played all instruments on his home recordings, the band soon began to play live and tour, while the releases volleyed between solo and ensemble recordings. On Everybody’s Got It Easy But Me, Finberg goes for a mixed approach. Having recently relocated to Los Angeles, he assembled an LA lineup of the band—but since he still spends time in his original home base of Seattle, he has retained a separate lineup in that city as well. For this new album, he uses them both…and does some songs all by himself. He also invited a number of guests to come in and add to it. The result is the most varied yet cohesive Intelligence album to date.

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