Thursday, May 28, 2009

TONIGHT-Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand
Status-Out as of 2009
3rd Studio Album
Rating-1.5 feathers

The dreaded 3rd album: The album that can make or break the career of even the most popular bands. Even bands like Coldplay and The Strokes fell flat on their faces with theirs, but is Franz Ferdinand any different? After the massive success of their self-named debut, and further success with ‘You Could Have it so Much Better’, they’ve decided to pull away from their post-punk, new-wave-y roots, and have cited reggae and electronica as prime influences for their anticipated 3rd album, ‘Tonight’. This alone brings me fear and curiosity. Starting with ‘Ulysses’, you are quickly bombarded with something that is not the Franz Ferdinand you expect. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty unbearable. The creepy “I’m sitting here watching you sleep” kinda vocals are really something awful. The chorus is really not original and the cheesy overtly electronic keyboard is what you’d expect from Lady Gaga, not them. ‘Turn it On’ is a little better than ‘Ulysses’, but it’s still nothing to shout about. It’s not all that original, and the lyrics are bad and very annoying. Written as the male ‘bragging to his friends’ perspective on a 1st kiss, ‘No You Girls’ is actually oddly endearing. It’s the best song off the album for the lyrics have some substance, it’s very catchy and loaded with hooks, and it’s possibly the closest thing to their old sound. ‘Send Him Away’ has a decent groove and it’s not destroyed by annoying dance synthesizers. However, the vocals have no spirit in them so they demolish any shred of the songs’ potential. ‘Twilight Omens’ is an improvement from the last song. Aided by the positive yet slightly eerie sound, they get the twilight part down, but the song generally just falls apart after the chorus. ‘Bite Hard’ starts with Alex Kapranos singing an almost sweet 40’s sounding monologue, but it’s quickly annihilated by a severely filtered and bombastic dance tune. I know that they are already pretty mainstream for an indie band, but I never knew they’d succumb to this. ‘What She Came For’ is just as terrible as ‘Bite Hard’. Who ever told him that the creepy staccato vocals were a good idea was clearly deaf. The chorus is the only thing remotely worth listening to. For some reason, I quite like ‘Live Alone’. It’s so abominably danceable, but I can’t deny how bunch fun it is to hop around to it. The bassline is shockingly good too. ‘Can’t Stop Feeling’ is also riddled with those terribly annoying synthesizers. It’s just not original and it’s beyond annoying. Compared to the alternate version, ‘Lucid Dreams’ is fairly unsatisfying. It doesn’t have the same zest, but it’s still not a completely horrible song. The beginning verse is the best part, but then this mix quickly goes down hill. They add in those synthesizers, and at the end have a synthesizer breakdown which is too self indulgent for it’s own good. ‘Dream Again’ is very experimental compared to the every other song on the album. It’s spacey-ness and the way his voice fits in makes it a nice surprise. It truly does not go with the rest of the album, but it is indeed a hidden gem. ‘Katherine Kiss Me’ is the same 1st kiss as ‘No You Girls’, just told from a girl’s ‘gentle’ perspective. It’s very cool of them to put both sides on the same album. The only major beef about this is that his voice isn’t really meant to be backed by a sweet acoustic guitar. As a whole, this was a weirdly scarring experience. I commend them for straying so far away from their basic sound, but I really don’t support writing a collection of mindless dance songs. I have expected more from Franz, but they are now the band who covers Britney Spear’s ‘Womanizer’, claiming it to be one of the best songs out now. What will be of Franz? Will they go back to their ‘Take Me Out’ oddness for their next release? Or will they continue to collapse under the pressure to make mindless hits? They will be the latter for Tonight.
"We'd picked up a lot of synthesisers and keyboards on tour over the previous couple of years but never had the chance to play with them. It's got more rhythm to it - it's much dancier than the second album."-Bob Hardy

Video for Ulysses

Recommendations: No You Girls, Live Alone, Dream Again
Franz Ferdinand's Official Website
Note: I promised that Midnight Boom review, but I'm putting it on the back burner (for now) in the attempt to review more recent stuff, so that will come eventually. I will next be reviewing Arctic Monkeys live at the Apollo so... I hope you enjoy!


Marilyn Roxie said...

Ahhh, but I loved 'Tonight'...and the long version of "Lucid Dreams" is epic. Should get an extra half star for their stylishness, anyway! :P I hear what you're saying here, though..."Take Me Out" is still their best song, and their 1st album not only the band's best so far, but one of the best of the 2000s in general!

Ian France said...

Great review! I heard that for the percussions in "No You Girls" they found a box of human bones at an auction and shook it to the drum beat. I like the way you started the review.

The creepy “I’m sitting here watching you sleep” kinda vocals are really something awful. - haha. XD

Double Hawk said...

Marilyn: I was debating for a good while whether or not to give it 2 or a 1.5. I really just wasn't too fond of it, and I wished they had a few more songs that still sounded like their original sound. I have to completely agree! I still do love Franz Ferdinand for their slight-freakiness! Thanks for the comment.

Arnie: Really? That's just weird. I love it when a band takes a weird object and finds away to capture it musically. And thank you!