I certainly never expected contemporary Scottish post-punk revivalists Franz Ferdinand and venerable LA-bred/Anglophile cult duo Sparks to record an album together; nor did I ever imagine it would turn out this great. Easily FF’s best since their 2004 self-titled debut and S’s most spirited since 2002’s career-redefining Lil’ Beethoven, this exuberant mash-up’s less seamless than last year’s Aimee Mann/Ted Leo collaboration The Both, and perhaps more interesting for that very reason. The opening operatic piano chords of “Johnny Delusional” suggest the Mael Brothers are clearly in the driver’s seat here, but Alex Kapranos and co. are noticeably thrilled to be along for the ride. Both bands bring their A-games to every damn last song, whether they aim to be cheeky (glorious last call “Piss Off”; adoring girls with “Hello Kitty Uzis” on the manic “So Desu Ne”), seductive (“Call Girl”), elegiac (“Little Guy From The Suburbs”) or winningly bratty (“Police Encounters”). Naturally, their penultimate song is an epic titled “Collaborations Don’t Work”; these six pranksters only get away with it by repeatedly disproving such a theory.
Favorite tracks: “Call Girl”, “Little Guy From The Suburbs”, “Police Encounters”, “Piss Off”