Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
42:43 min • Domino • January 26th, 2009
So, we’ve not had an album from Franz Ferdinand in a while now. The last I heard from Alex Kapranos was when watching a DVD on the late, great Ivor Cutler. Alex was waxing lyrical about his love for Ivor, and in my book, anyone who does that is alright.
Tonight is FF’s first album since 2005’s You Could Have It So Much Better, which I did think at the time, well, yes we could. Actually that’s a tad harsh, it was not a bad album, just not as good as their debut. Which, let’s face it, is not that unusual. So, where does that leave their latest offering? Well I am relieved to say that, to my ears at least, they are back on top form. The Scottish art-rock popsters are still going to fill plenty of dance floors with their trademark brand of catchy indie rock/dance numbers. There is also evidence in some of the new tracks of their moving in a slightly new direction – let’s say a slightly more experimental, slightly more mature, & slightly sexier Franz Ferdinand. Note the heavy use of the word ‘slightly’.
Apparently the album is a concept album, exploring the highs and lows associated with an evening of debauchery – from the initial early evening excitement to the numbness of the morning after. Saying the words ‘concept’ and ‘album’ together says to me ‘prog-rock’ or ‘Kate Bush’. Now, this can be either a very good or bad thing depending …
The album kicks off with lead single ‘Ulysses’, a rather funk laden bass driven track with a chorus that sounds a wee bit ‘Take Me Out’-ish. Which is no bad thing. It’s followed by another sexy number: ‘Turn It On’. Now this one took me a few listens. I found it rather annoying at first, but it has grown on me. Alex sings “you know I know where you are”. Not sure how I feel about that. Personally I prefer to hear Ms Harry sing “I’m gonna getcha”.
Next up is the incredibly catchy ‘No You Girls’ – an obvious choice for a single. I’m particularly fond of the line – “lick your cigarette now kiss me”. Mmmh yes, if you’re on a night out on the town these days that’s about all you’ll get to do with your fag! ‘Send Him Away’, whilst still being of the dancier flavour, is rather more mellow. In fact it starts off sounding a little country-ish, but then turns into something else – with hand-claps to boot. Or at least that’s what I think I heard.
‘Twilight Omens’ has good pianos/synths, but it is one of the weaker tracks. A trio of songs that are probably what one would consider typical classic Franz Ferdinand fare follows it. These are ‘Bite Hard’, ‘What She Came For’ and ‘Live Alone’ – my personal fave being the latter one.
Now we come to a couple of tracks that I would say are the best examples of the ‘slightly’ new direction. Maybe I don’t mean new direction, but maybe you can hear some different influences creeping in.
‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’ sounds influenced by Hot Chip & LCD Soundsystem; but it still sounds very FF at the same time. Did I read somewhere that one of Hot Chip was involved?
Next up is possibly the most surprising track off the album, ‘Lucid Dreams’. You will probably hear a lot of reviews talking about the acid-techno break, or such like. At first you may think “hey, have I been transported from Popstarz to the Ministry of Sound or some such place?” It would certainly not be out of place at any indie/alternative shindig in town. Think Depeche Mode, Primal Scream, Chemical Brothers; or more recently the aforementioned Hot Chip & LCD Soundsystem.
Things slow down for the last 2 tracks, which I suppose is the morning after. First up is ‘Dream Again’. This one is slightly odd. I’m not saying I don’t like it, but the vocals sound a little uncomfortable on this floaty little trippy number. I think it’s another grower. Last it is back on more comfortable territory with an acoustic ballad titled ‘Katherine Kiss Me’, which is a lovely ending to a jolly good third album. Highly recommended.