Wednesday, February 4, 2009

First Blush: Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

Glasgow's Franz Ferdinand burst onto the scene in 2004 with the smash hit, "Take Me Out." Their second record, while not as strong as the first, still served to build their popularity and

Track 1 - Ulysses
An incredibly simple and calm beat begins everything. Lead singer Alex Kapranos then comes in with a whisper. He sounds like Mike Muir on dopamine. This is weird. Then at 40 seconds, we punch in with some LCD Soundsystem stuff. And it starts to kick by the time we get to 1:00. "Lah, lalala, Ulysses. I find a new way, I found a new way baybaaah!" I mean, that sums up this dance tune better than I could. Also, this is friggin' AWESOME.

Track 2 - Turn It On
More LCD Soundsystem. Clearly this was intentional. This is reminding me of that hit song Elastica that one time they had a hit song. We're missing the punch we had on track one. And it's not as catchy as it should be (despite the solid drum work).

Track 3 - No You Girls
Spooky beginning, turns into a stomp that sounds almost exactly like "Talk about love" by Led Zeppelin (which was probably a ripoff of someone else), except not as rock and roll. Then at the 55 second mark, we hit the hook - it yanks us right along before combining itself with the Zeppelin riff. At 2:40, it breaks down boring just to build back up again. Good tune, derivative though it may be.

Track 4 - Twilight Omens
80s music. Not sure which one, but one of the lesser 80s genres. Like, way weaker than Bronksi Beat. Later we get just a bit of an edge here. But seriously, I half expect Anthony Michael Hall's bouffant to come around the corner at any moment. All that said, it's pretty good.

Track 5 - Send Him Away
The intro here is half Gary Glitter, half Yeasayer. But then it gets into a singsongy, dopey tune that sounds like it didn't make the cut when the Stranglers recorded it the first time. Rock N Roll Part III it is not. I'm hoping this is just a weird interlude track and not something about to derail the whole album.

Track 6 - Live Alone
Now they stole the boops and beeps from Funkytown! And the sound of a smoke machine! Then the beeps multiply and the vocals are waily, but not in a good way. Things are derailed. I suppose they're going for an MGMT thing here, but they are not pulling it off. It has devolved back into LCD Soundsystem again. Which is all fine and good, but I thought this was a rock album.

Track 7 - Bite Hard
A sparse, beaty intro goes into a Franz Ferdinand version of The Fratellis, which is weird because the bands are kinda similar, from the same town, but Franz Ferdinand has always been a lot better. The track's pretty fun, if overtly basic.

Track 8 - What She Came For
The bottom has dropped out. The vocals are kinda weak, and aside from the drums there ain't much else here. And I still feel like we're kinda back in Funkytown for some reason. It rocks in an obvious way at 1:20. They're mailing it in at this point. The song finishes a bit more triumphantly with a double-time stomp, but it was a lot to endure to get here.

Track 9 - Can't Stop Feeling
Practically a cover of LCD's "Tribulations". Not Franz's strong suit.

Track 10 - Lucid Dreams
Whoah. At nearly eight minutes, this is almost double the longest song they've ever released. I think that's a good sign. A dreamy beginning leads into a busy groove. But then at about 3:30 I'm starting to get bored. Perhaps I was wrong about the length premise. At 4:45, they seem bored. 6:52 - uhhh, yeah. That didn't work.

Track 11 - Dream Again
Pink Floyd echoey vocals at the outset. The vocals just don't seem very good on this record overall. Maybe in the two previous albums, their weakness was covered up by the guitar and, for some reason, they left them more naked this time around. Anyway, they're still bored. This is like one of those b-sides that you think, "yeah, no wonder they left this off the album. It's boring and doesn't make much sense." But it's on the album.

Track 12 - Katherine Kiss Me
Franz Ferdinand songs with girls names in them usually deliver. But this is downright sleeeeeeepy. I think they've been listening to The National. They shouldn't do that.

Well, what started off very promising ended up merely good. But in this day and age, I'll take merely good. There are a couple pretty fantastic tracks, but I don't see myself spinning the whole record much. Hopefully I'm wrong and will get the subtlety. But historically Franz Ferdinand hasn't been about subtlety. I can't really recommend it, but download those first four tracks and play 'em at your next party for sure.

1 comment:

Kozy said...

I downloaded and listened to Tonight 2 weeks ago. Since then I have not felt compelled to give it a 2nd listen. This will likely be my last Franz Ferd purchase.