Franz Ferdinand packs funk into fifth studio album but lacks any substantial reinvention

Indie band creates danceable melodies, thought-provoking lyrics, yet songs plagued with predictability

· Feb 14, 2018 Tweet

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Scottish indie rock band Franz Ferdinand released their fifth studio album, Always Ascending, for eager fans Feb. 9.

Always Ascending serves as their first album since 2013 release, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.

The album’s greatest strength is high-energy sound, much like past projects from Franz Ferdinand. Stemming from their formation in 2002, Franz Ferdinand has definitely stayed true to their creed to “make records that girls can dance to.”

Ironically enough, indie rock peer MGMT — similarly formed in 2012 — also released their first album since 2013, on the same date. For some, this signifies a return to the golden era of mid-2000s indie glory.

Always Ascending also marks the first album of Franz Ferdinand without founding member and guitarist, Nick McCarthy. New members Julian Corrie (keyboards, synthesizer, guitar and backing vocals) and Dino Bardot (guitar and backing vocals) joined the lineup in 2017.

Joined by the newcomers, returning members Alex Kapranos (lead vocals, guitar and keyboard), Bob Hardy (bass guitar) and Paul Thomson (drums, percussion and backing vocals) came back with the same sexy synths and sleek atmospherics they topped charts with in years past.

Perhaps the catchiest, albeit simplest, song on the LP comes in at the third track, “Lazy Boy.” With groovy panache and lyrical parody, Kapranos’ low voice feels effortlessly cool on top of a steady, almost addictive bass line.

“Lois Lane” stood out for its romanticism of the press, and a meaning open to interpretation. The song follows the narrative of a female journalist, showing the merits of journalism through her desire to “change the world.”

While Franz Ferdinand is known more so for their music’s “danceability” over its lyrical content, certain tracks contained lyrics with thought-provoking meanings and clever rhymes, especially seen in “Huck and Jim.”

With lyrics like “Terminal chancers who loathe the privilege to loathe their privilege,” Franz Ferdinand debuted newfound profoundness without straying far from their instrument-centric roots.

But not all the tracks on the album felt genuine or necessary. Certain songs lacked lyrical complexity or even purpose, such as tracks “Finally” and “The Academy Award.” From veterans in the rock scene, one would expect more out of their fifth album over the course of more than a decade.

With lyrics in “Finally” such as, “Finally I found my people, Found the people who were meant to be found by me, finally finally finally I’m here,” certain tracks fell flat, and seemed rather juvenile.

What Franz Ferdinand has done well for nearly two decades, though, is enticing listeners with indisputably catchy pop riffs, and entrapping them with a unique funk charm.

Rank: 6/10


This article was published Feb 14, 2018 at 10:55 am and last updated Feb 13, 2018 at 9:03 pm


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