Sometimes a collaboration ends up being both exactly and nothing like you would have expected. Such is the case when Sparks and Franz Ferdinand joined forces to form the brilliantly titled FFS. I could not have imagined what that would have sounded like before I heard it, but now that I have, it’s a remarkable 50/50 split of the styles of both bands. Songs like Dictator’s Son are the perfect example. Leaning heavily on the art rock background of each group, it’s a highly theatrical affair. Franz Ferdinand shows off some of its trademark angular guitars while Sparks’s Russell Mael puts his dramatized, Europop-y vocals to great use. The whole thing is a vivid act of storytelling, a tongue-in-cheek account of the life of despot’s kid. It’s clever and catchy, but with a strangely threatening undercurrent. There’s a distinct level of dramatic and musical tension, punctuated by Ron Mael’s urgent keyboard and Alex Kapranos’s moody appearance as a flight attendant. I’m not sure anyone had as much fun making an album last year as these guys, and it shows in their slightly mad, delightfully unsafe, off-kilter pop.