Not a lot to be honest - the singles "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us", "Amatuer Hour", "Beat The Clock" and "Number One Song In Heaven" are hard wired into my brain. I bought a copy of 'Kimono My House' on the back of an article about Morrissey and his letters to the NME praising the album. It is definitely worth owning and listening to, even if it is not played with any great regularity. But that's about it - I never explored their back catalogue further.
In my head, I have them marked down as purveyors of bombastic, slightly unhinged pop.
What do I know about Franz Ferdinand?
Not too much more than I know about Sparks. I own the debut album, played it a lot when it was released, but lost interest in the follow-up and not been back on my radar.
So a joint effort may not sound immediately appealing, but, hey, its worth a punt.
And what a fruitful put that was.
Starting with an echoing piano. the opening track "Johnny Delusional" starts in Franz Ferdinand territory, and then Russel Maels voice chimes in, adding Sparks to the mix. The track bounds along and you think: "Franz Ferdinand and Sparks together on one record is not a bad thing. Maybe I should consider exploring their respective back catalogues".
"Call Girl" is a Franz Ferdinand track sung by Sparks. "Dictators Son" is the track where it all gels, and you're not thinking or hearing either band separately. "Little Guy From The Suburbs" is almost veering into ballad territory with a slow melancholic opening, and a slow, measured, sparse and acoustic delivery. "Police Encounters" is the most overtly bombastic song here, and is likely to be stuck in your head for days after hearing it.
"Save Me From Myself" from myself has a passing nod to "This Town .." and is a solid, if not on the same earworm level as the preceding tracks.
"So Desu Ne". "The Man Without A Tan", "Things I Won't Get" also have the lack of earworm-y-ness about them, but there is no wrong with them.
The close of the album offer the 3 strongest tracks on the album. "The Power Couple" opens with a barrel-house piano, and you feel it never really goes anywhere, apart from getting stuck in your head.
"Collaborations Don't Work" starts out sounding like a moment of frustration with the project, and the author was sitting in the studio with a guitar, noodling away and just tossed the phrase off over an arpeggio. But then ... quick change of pace, and it starts to build to epic proportions. And just as you get to the point of equilibrium, it changes pace again, and again, and again.
The closing track is unlikely to get much radio play being titled "Piss Off", and bounces along like a pub sing-a-long. It's raucous, overblown, and ever so slightly amusing (or maybe that's just me still sniggering at swear words delivered completely straight faced).
The Deluxe Edition contains four further tracks - I've only got the standard 12 track CD issue, so a visit to Spotify was called for.
The extra tracks are worthwhile listening, but I don't believe that they would make the album stronger.
It's one of those albums that is getting better and better with every listen.
Yes, this was one of my better punts