Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. The First Review Of The New Album
, December 10th, 2008 17:10
The Quietus got an early listen to the new Franz Ferdinand album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, and pegged it back to the office to give you the first verdict.
The lead single from Franz Ferdinand's first album since the ever-so-slightly disappointing You Could Have It So Much Better in 2005 immediately points to a firm sense of direction. The single (released physically on January 19th), opens with a whip-crack funk break backline and Alex Kapranos demanding: "Come on! Let's get high!" What? At his age? Disgraceful. Sessions with Sugababes and Girls Aloud producer Brian Higgins of Xenomania might not have gone too well (our sources say there was a dispute over drinking in the studio) but there is still a massive and unashamed pop influence here – for example, the bassline gives way to a riff that suggests that someone has been listening to a lot of house.
'Turn It On'
The funk is in full effect again here, but this isn't the amphetamine-taut, jittery strut of the first album; but rather an adult orientated, slick funk. This is offset slightly by a delirium tremens guitar line. The braggadocio of their sophomore is still present as Kapranos wails: "Gonna get you on your own - turn you on!" Thankfully something that appears to be missing from the second album is the prissy over-arrangement of songs; they and the jarring middle eight sections seem to have been abandoned for a more straightforward hook-driven style.
'No You Girls'
Skittery mutant disco harks back to the early delights of 'The Dark Of The Matinee', in style at least. A raucous and feedback ridden guitar solo suggests that maybe they aren't as interested in making "disco music for girls" as they used to be. But then it ends six seconds later. The guitar hooks are played with a warm glam rock, (indeed, almost classic rock) richness that makes a nice counterpoint to the thinner-sounding new wave style of the rest of the track.
A treated piano plinks out a lightweight riff. 'Twilight Omen' certainly has a lot of ideas crammed into it - it's just a shame most of them are quite forgettable.
'Send Him Away'
Opens with a lolloping glam beat played in Glitter band triplets. This then morphs into a hectic disco funk number. This is starting to back up the group's contention that they weren't writing songs with arenas in mind. This, and several others besides on this album, have their eyes trained directly on the dance floor.
Another song that sounds like it was designed at a disco where new wave and drainpipe jeans are the order of the night. Talking of trousers, the rhythm section is as razor sharp as the crease on a pair of Farah Stay Pressed. This is easily the best song on the album up to this point, with its dreamy Parallel Lines period Blondie chorus – a sure fire single.
Talking of singles, this would be another dead cert in my book. It starts off like an up tempo 'Eleanor Put Your Boots On' before strutting out to the dance floor as the song breaks down into a tightly regimented glam stomp. It's obvious, even on first listen, that this album has much more in common with the debut in terms of killer tracks. But have tastes moved on too much for them to repeat the successful year of 2004?
'What She Came For'
This strikes me as the third in a trio of classic Franz tracks. 'Take Me Out' is the narrator demanding a night on the tile as recompense for his lack of luck with the ladies; a year later on 'Do You Want To' he struts around like an alpha male – his luckless days behind him; and here he is imparting his lothario-esque advice to some other hapless, Morrissey-damaged, moping youngster. Over a tight indie funk back line.
'Can't Stop Feeling'
Weirdly enough this reminds me of the theme music to Rhubarb and Custard - which is obviously not a bad thing. Again, this sounds like it has its sights set firmly on the disco rather than Manchester MEN Arena.
Something worth pointing out here is that their sound has been beefed up (especially the guitars) on a lot of the tracks. Here warmly overdriven and fuzzy guitars and bass sound like they are being played so loud that they have shredded the speaker cones. Forget the Arctic Monkeys – it sounds like Franz Ferdinand have taken a leaf out of the Queens of the Stone Age book of desert rock. This also, bizarrely enough, features what sounds like a flute riff. This song drifts off and then rematerializes with all members (presumably) clutching Roland equipment. A monstrous, acid techno bass squelch is joined by a pulverising Moroder-esque hook, with clanking and wheezing Depeche Mode industrial percussion. Who could have predicted that Franz would have gone acid house! Rave on.
A really very bizarre ballad that sounds like a normal ballad does after you've been hit over the back of the head with a shovel. Woozy and queasy it is reminiscent of Tom Waits in spirit rather than in sound.
'Katherine Kiss Me'
And after the weird ballad comes a very pleasant acoustic ballad that, again, is slightly reminiscent of 'Eleanor Put Your Boots On'. My verdict, after one listen, is that this album is a genuine success. There are a brace of bona fide killer songs here, and not much in the way of filler or the kind of awkward cut and shunt songs that kicked a hole in the side of the second album.
Now read the full down page review of Franz Ferdinand's Tonight: Franz Ferdinand on The Quietus