The word "supergroup" isn't much used these days and for good reason: it's too associated with those self-regarding outfits who chartered fleets of 747s to fly them and their lighting rigs around the world in the 1970s.

These days rock stars prefer "side project" or "collaboration". But however you name it, FFS is one such, a coming together of Franz Ferdinand and veteran LA-based art pop duo Sparks, aka brothers Ron and Russell Mael. The idea was born a decade ago but only came to fruition last autumn in a 15-day recording session in London. The results are intriguing enough, though most of the best moments come from the wit and whimsy that Sparks bring to the party: Dictator's Son, for instance, written from the perspective of a boy trying to escape the family business; or The Power Couple, about the nervous wait for the arrival of famous married dinner guests. What the Scots provide is choppy, rumbustious energy and, in Alex Kapranos's baritone, a counterpoint to Russell Mael's trademark falsetto. You probably won't hear a more intelligent album this year and it certainly bodes well for the future offerings mooted.

Barry Didcock

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