Daily Mael 2015

From the film, The Forbidden Room. One of them overblown orchestral type Sparks tunes featuring dramatic stabs and operatic pretensions. Written for a segment of the film about a gentleman who is “plagued by bottoms” and seeks out a doctor to surgically eliminate the desire, a desire fanned by “Master Passion.” Disturbing video featuring brain surgery and sweaty pervert.

Downbeat in the main, about a lonely Christmas where there’s “no one to buy me things I don’t want” including “an album by Wings” – bit harsh. Then, a few seasonally jolly “pum pum pum”s lead to the upbeat “I feel it” section where things start to liven up, only to come down again with a return to the sad main theme. A tad depressing.

Not a lot of laughs here in this bleak depiction of, yes, a violent death. The familiar trope of the melody exactly replicating the piano figure is played out here against the very grim and chilling scenario of a train crash. No subject matter too dark for these guys. Still, top tune.

Dirty distorted and crunchy, fuzzy static with phasers set to wobbly. No subtlety here whatsoever as the narcissism is turned up to 11. A comment on modern day self-obsession or just an egotist gone mad? The point is incessantly rammed home as the narrator’s intense pleading threatens to tumble out the speakers and grab your throat. By the close of the song, Kapranos’s breathy, psychotic voice resembles a panicked Alan Vega. Stop! Oh, what a relief.

Intriguing tune about who knows who? Certainly a father of dubious parenting skills who would “lean into my cradle/Rest a revolver on an infant cheek.” The arresting chorus has a lovely singsong quality to it. The lulling vibe is then broken when a full bodied Franz intervention slams in at the “I am the King of the song” part. Mysterious.

Deftly bouncy and such a jolly song about the contemplation of suicide. Everybody sing! Basically powered by the hook of the title with a wonderful “awwwwwww…of” rise at the end of every third line of the refrain. Also, a unique pronounciation of “capricious.”

Glorious and hilarious glam stomper that takes you back to early Sparks/Halfnelson days. The “Get to the point and point to the open door” bits followed by the drum fill launching into the magnificent chorus is one of those magical hair tingling musical moments that just make you smile. An absolute belter.

Ha! The irony is strong in this one. A vast soundscape ranging from the sparse acoustic strum through the overblown arrangement and many variations and movements to the quietly reflective ending. “Where is this damn thing a-goin’?” Indeed. The music tangents appear to back up the title, but then, they would have planned it that way, thus disproving the title. And so forth. The disjointedness is also similar to heyday 10cc as well. Defiance, bombast, art history and politics combined: “I ain’t no collaborator!” Bit of a masterpiece.

There’s that fairground feel again. A big beaty monster. It appears to be about an influential pair coming to tea who the couple in question wish to impress and learn from. Or it could be when Ron and Russell met the Franz crew. The faux smarmy way Alex Kaparanos delivers his lines reminds me of Neil Hannon of the Devine Comedy.

Another song of regret and disappointment. Quite sad, really, as it plays with the the two meanings of “get,” i.e. “understand” and “obtain”. The list of unobtainables naturally reaches into the intellectual (“string theory”) and furniture world (“A chair that’s designed by Charles and Ray Eames”). I’m reminded of the “Things!” from Ugly Guys With Beautiful Girls.

Top singalong material in this insanely catchy romp. A callback to ‘Barbecutie’ perhaps, where they sang, “For the sake of man he has forsaken his whole tan.” The song weaves around the mysterious doings of this ridiculously handsome man cutting about town – again a strangely rundown town: “It seemed like there were lots of things that had been shuttered down.” There’s an undercurrent of decay running through much of FFS.

Very electronic dancey and Japanesey. Apparently, the title itself means many things in different situations, usually something like “Let’s see” or “Yes, it is.” Swimming in Japanese cultural references, the song has a novelty wind up toy sensibility in both the music and feel, especially as it literally winds down at the end. The idea of a “Hello Kitty Uzi” is a fun one.

Thumping keyboard and a general pounding beat in this apocalyptic scenario. Quite what the cause of all this biblical destruction is remains vague, although the suggestion seems to be it could be all a self-created nightmare of paranoid proportions. It’s interesting to hear which musical parts are more Franz Ferdinand than Sparks, although the lines “Who is that confronting me?/Who is that in front of me” are more obviously Sparkseqsue. There’s also another pseudo Beachy boys type bit thrown in for good measure.

Sweeping grandeur to start with, then blending into an old school jumpy Sparks with crowded lyrics dripping with cultural references. Certainly a strange encounter with the law, involving a fixation with “the policeman’s wife in her dyed black hair and her Bowie knife.” The quirky “Bomp bom diddy diddy” bits give it a jolt and, when they suddenly contrast with strings at one point, disarm the frivolous flow. Pleasing madness.

Plaintive beginning with killer second line leading into a deceptively sweet little song about a “fake existentialist, I’m the martyr/Steal from the bank of Jean-Paul Sartre.” The sombre tone and creepy back story give it a wonderful sense of menace. That three note reverb guitar bit hits you in the gut. A feeling of resigned hopelessness runs through it. Love it.

Rollicking ride with pin sharp piano guitars and drums. A race through the tribulations of being a dictator’s son and fleeing your fatherland “that’s banned the sun” to that sunniest of climes, LA. The list of things he’s into is a hoot, including “Harris Tweed” and “Coed knees.” A heady mix and bizarrely intoxicating.

The blend of electronica and guitars continues in a smooth but not in your face number. A confusing play on the well-known phrase “call girl” where it’s the girl who’s expected to make the call after the man has hocked his TV and guitar for her and given up adderall amongst other things too. It’s as if Johnny Delusional reigns again: “I hear no lies in a deaf romance.”

And so, the collaboration with Franz Ferdinand begins in grand (piano) style, then bursting into full blown rocker. The arch vocals of Alex Kapranos are a perfect foil to Russell’s style. The two groups merge so slickly in a sumptuous meeting of minds to produce a sharp and danceable glam noise. It’s a fabulous place to be and “Wouldn’t it be terrible if there’s no music there?”

























1967 – 1969