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Franz Ferdinand’s Kapranos on five essential Sparks songs

David Edwards

Though they formed decades apart, Franz Ferdinand and Sparks are two bands that share a similarly idiosyncratic philosophy — and now, an album and a stage. Enter FFS (Franz Ferdinand & Sparks), a recently formed supergroup that avoids simply recontextualizing old material, but instead creates a distinct new sound. FFS plays Boston’s Orpheum Theatre on Oct. 2, where Franz Ferdinand singer-guitarist Alex Kapranos and his mates will team up with Sparks’ Ron and Russell Mael to make some witty, provocative noise. To set the stage, we asked Kapranos to pick five essential Sparks songs.

1. “This Town Ain’t Big Enough for Both of Us” “This is the song that really brought them to the UK audience. It’s such a good pop song, [but] it doesn’t follow the conventions of pop songwriting. . . . It doesn’t really follow one particular scale all of the time, it works in sections, it’s led by this really long piano riff . . . and it’s cool, it really rocks, it’s really heavy, and it’s all based around that one line, which you used to hear in western movies.”


2. “Achoo” “It’s one of the first songs we tried to play when we got together as Franz Ferdinand. . . . It was great because we all loved Sparks. The music that they wrote — and this song is a great example — is very direct. And while it doesn’t sound like pop music in a conventional sense, it works like pop music should, in that you have an instant reaction to it.”

3. “The Number One Song in Heaven”
“It sounds completely different from anything they’d done before as a rock band. . . . The bass guitars, even Ron’s piano style, has disappeared. We now have synthesizers and a disco drum beat leading the arrangement. Which is a massively brave move for a band to do: You’ve established yourselves and you have a distinct following that’s already defined, and then you completely leave that behind.”


4. “Sherlock Holmes”
“This song has this strange ethereal wallow-iness to it, which is beautiful, almost a little fragile and gentle. It’s written with the chord progression you’d hear almost in a Ramones or a Phil Spector song, but the choice of melody is not an obvious melody; it’s what you’d find more in jazz.”

5. “When Do I Get to Sing ‘My Way’ ”
“It’s implied that that’s how Ron feels, because you have this strong creative partnership between Ron and Russell, where Ron is the writer and remains back behind the keyboards throughout all the performances. And Russell is the star as the vocalist, singing the words that Ron’s written, but Ron never gets to be the singer himself. There’s something incredibly poignant about that, and quite beautiful about it; it’s quite emotional, and yet it’s funny.”

FFS performs at the Orpheum Theatre on Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $23.50-$33.50. 800-653-8000, www.ticketmaster.com

Mallory Abreu can be reached at mallory.abreu@globe.com.