Franz Ferdinand: Tonight
Disappointment. That’s how I feel about this album.
I know that the band, and plenty of fans too apparently, felt that their last record You Could Have it so much Better was rushed and impeded by record label pressure. Franz were expected to pump out a new set before the hype around their debut died down, and some say this was a downer. I couldn’t disagree more. In fact, I think You Could Have it so much Better was catchier and stronger than even their self titled release.
The boys in Franz have banged on in every recent interview about how happy they are with the songs on Tonight, and how creative and inspired they felt during its three year conception. Sorry guys, but it only takes one listen to realise how laboured and lifeless this record is.
What I loved about Franz Ferdinand’s last two records was the mania and ramshackle nature of their sound. They were exciting because at any moment their schtick might fly off the rails and explode into a beautiful blaze of surf-guitars and ooh-ahhhs. Plus, you could dance to it.
For their third offering, Franz Ferdinand have polished the life out of their sound and slowed everything down to a dreary mid-tempo plod. The drums have been given an electronic makeover, the guitars jangle when they should zing. And worst of all, everything’s been doused in computerised blips and bleeps.
The band have also said this is their experimental record. Forgive me, but experimental doesn’t mean using keyboard sounds lifted directly from Phil Collins, and putting delay effects on your vocals. Case in point is Live Alone with its Blondie bassline and chiming keys that strive for Heart of Glass but end up smelling like ass. Kapronos’ banal paint-by-numbers lyrics don’t help matters either – “I wanna’ live alone. Because the greatest love is always ruined by the bickering, the argument of living. I wanna’ live alone.”
The low light comes on the reworked first single Lucid Dreams, which starts as a jangly pop-rock song and ends 8 minutes later as a Chemical Brothers styled big beat stomp. What were they thinking?
Every band releases a dud at some point in their career; it’s human to fail sometimes. I think the problem here is that Franz Ferdinand really seem to believe in what they’ve done on Tonight. Where as they used to take the piss, they’re no longer in on the joke. The best bands come out of these periods by channeling their mistakes into a future that’s fresh and exciting. Here’s hoping that Franz Ferdinand are merely shedding some skin.