Franz Ferdinand
Tonight: Franz Ferdinand


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
January 26th, 2009 | 64 replies


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Franz go electro, embrace their true nature, and make their best album yet.

If there's one indie who don't need telling that they should just concentrate on being a great pop band, it's Franz Ferdinand; and yet, that's exactly how much of the popular media will probably respond to this, the band's third full-length. Eschewing the darker, more psychedelic edges of You Could Have It So Much Better and replacing the diversity they provided with a renewed focus on synthesizers and electronic textures, it's probably exactly how the writers of sub-tabloid gossip magazines like Heat, Bliss, and New Musical Express imagined how things would turn out when the news was leaked that Franz were working with Xenomania. Certainly a lot of the latter's trademarks permeate the album, most tellingly their glossy and vocal-centric production.

It should, in theory, make for a very average album. You Could Have It So Much Better was a bold step forward from their debut, a movement into areas darker and more mature than their 'music for girls to dance to' schtick would have you believe. On the surface, at least, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand largely suspends that, failing to capitalize on the success of tracks like "Eleanor, Put Your Boots On". And this is before we consider that. in adopting synthesizers, Franz are bowing to current trends, nodding in the direction of nu-rave and the ever-growing influence of acts like The Klaxons. And yet somehow, despite all that, it's another improvement - not necessarily a step forward in their sound as such, but certainly a refinement of the debut that eliminates the filler and updates the sound without sounding like an attempt to pander to the Mighty Boosh-worshipping university students of the latter half of the decade.

The reason for this album's success on the latter front - and indeed, the reason it's their best album yet - boils down to the fact that Franz are one of the few British indie bands who sound natural when absorbing computers into their songs. Kapranos was never the most emotional singer in the world, favouring instead the stance of standing back and observing the action passively, with wit and charm but never passion; rather than questioning the actions of the little boy in "The Fallen", he instead asks 'what's wrong with a little destruction?'. The same is true of the guitar parts of Nick McCarthy, which have been catchy, funky, and crisp without ever being in any way pretty or emotional (even "Eleanor", when faced with prettiness, opted instead for piano when guitars would have done just fine on their own). Really, they always had more in common with Kraftwerk than their more oft-quoted influence, Orange Juice, and it shows.

But the hooks! You can conceptualize their new sound all you like, but what really counts is that "Ulysses" and "No You Girls Never Know", among others, are the kind of song that can get stuck in your head after one half-attentive listen. Tying witty lyrics to muscular melodies has always been their obvious strength, right from the heady days of the "Darts of Pleasure" single, and it's in abundance here once again. Franz have always been smart enough to know that their strength lies here and that nothing should get in the way of it, which is why an awesome/terrible lyric like "Twilight Omen"'s deliriously stupid/clever 'I typed your name into a calculator/And it spelled a dirty word/When you turn it upside down' sounds so natural in their hands when so many other bands would just sound terrible doing the same thing. It's what they do; the synths are just an entertaining sub-plot to their most consistent set of songs yet.

Tonight: Franz Ferdinand will undoubtedly lose out in the end of year polls to Dutch post-rock, average death metal, twee indie-pop with way too many instruments, a Leonard Cohen live album, and at least one album that's an hour too long, yet for this listener, the band have set down an early benchmark for the year. It will be bettered, as surely as night follows day, but there might not be another album released in the next 12 months that offers the same delirious, sugar-coated enjoyment, let alone one that matches it with Kapranos' casually whip-smart lyrics. And you think Fennesz is intelligent dance music?



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user ratings (351)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Davey Boy STAFF (3.5)
While it may be the same material dressed up in different colors, there is nothing wrong with adding...

Fugue (3)
Franz Ferdinand return with their most inconsistent album to date. Whilst the highs are undoubtedly ...

Ali CONTRIBUTOR (3.5)
It probably won't have the same impact as their first two albums, but Franz Ferdinand's comeback is ...


Comments:Add a Comment 
Douchebag
January 26th 2009


3624 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"but certainly a refinement of the debut that eliminates the filler and updates the sound without sounding like an attempt to pander to the Mighty Boosh-worshipping university students of the latter half of the decade. "

LOL!
I've been thinking of the boosh the entire time I been listening to this album. I almost expect electro boy to come after lucid dreams!

gaslightanthem
January 26th 2009


5209 Comments



Tonight: Franz Ferdinand will undoubtedly lose out in the end of year polls to Dutch post-rock, average death metal, twee indie-pop with way too many instruments, a Leonard Cohen live album, and at least one album that's an hour too long, yet for this listener, the band have set down an early benchmark for the year. It will be bettered, as surely as night follows day, but there might not be another album released in the next 12 months that offers the same delirious, sugar-coated enjoyment, let alone one that matches it with Kapranos' casually whip-smart lyrics. And you think Fennesz is intelligent dance music?

fucking awesome end to a great review, brought the lolz especially as it's true.
tbh, i prefer their self titled the most at this point, but whether that's nostalgia (it came out when I was 13 and first getting into music idk). this is great though and really grows after every listen. Lucid Dreams and Ulysses are current favourites.



Douchebag
January 26th 2009


3624 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree 100% with gaslight. I don't even like electro pop rubbish, but this album has such a 70's back to basic electro feel that i just enjoy. Yes I even like the bizzare bit at the end of lucid dreams, It's likewhole lotta love's acid trip section for 2009.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Their debut had filler?
I haven't yet listened to this, but I am almost certain I will not like it as much as their self-titled.
Great review as always Nick.

gaslightanthem
January 26th 2009


5209 Comments


it's a banging album though davey

Douchebag
January 26th 2009


3624 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah davey I thought the same thing when I bought it. You just can't compare them, they are different. It's good fun through a good set of headphones too

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2009


20857 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I am expecting it to be Kane. But I really liked their debut (clearly better than Nick did).
Hey, why aren't you commenting on my reviews anymore? Too metal for me!?!?!? ;-)

gasmaskman
January 26th 2009


1006 Comments


Sounds great.
I only listened to half the first album but they were always really catchy... I think I'll be checking this out.

gaslightanthem
January 26th 2009


5209 Comments


Hey, why aren't you commenting on my reviews anymore? Too metal for me!?!?!? ;-)

hahaha, nah man the last reviews of yours i saw were the def leppard and house of pain ones and i don't really have much to say about either artist. sorry man aha


AtavanHalen
January 26th 2009


17927 Comments


Tonight: Franz Ferdinand will undoubtedly lose out in the end of year polls to Dutch post-rock, average death metal, twee indie-pop with way too many instruments, a Leonard Cohen live album, and at least one album that's an hour too long

Gold.
Solid gold.

poweroftheweez
January 26th 2009


1290 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

great review. this album is so fine.

Fugue
January 26th 2009


7353 Comments


Bloody good review, I disagree wit the rating though, both of their other efforts are better than this for me.

Altmer
January 26th 2009


5652 Comments


Is there any Dutch post-rock? Because I am not aware of it.

Iai
Emeritus
January 26th 2009


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I thought Efterklang were but it turns out they're just using a Dutch word for their name. Generic joke anyway.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
January 26th 2009


7338 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good review, though I prefer their first over this. It's still a good album though, probably better than I expected.

But the hooks! You can conceptualize their new sound all you like, but what really counts is that "Ulysses" and "No You Girls Never Know", among others, are the kind of song that can get stuck in your head after one half-attentive listen.

I've been experiencing this with No You Girls from first listen. Best song imo.

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
January 26th 2009


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Awesome, awesome review. Not digging this album as much as you, but Ulysses is a pretty fun single. "No You Girls" is exactly the same as Switches "Lay Down The Law." Which isn't a good thing

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

NewYorkZoo
January 26th 2009


95 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

totally great review, just got me so much more psyched to listen to this soon.

AggravatedYeti
January 26th 2009


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I really enjoyed this review, made me go back & listen to this again. I agree with a lot of what you say they do with the new album. Somewhat streamlined, attention to hooks, and I do like the addition of the electronics. But, this doesn't hold up to their debut honestly, I do like it more now giving it an additional spin.
Either way, nicely done Mr. Butler.

AggravatedYeti
January 26th 2009


7685 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Oh, btw, Boosh is boss. Though I don't know how it translates over in the UK. Here in the states I find no one that knows about it. :'(

Chewie
January 26th 2009


4532 Comments


1 word comes to mind: mediocreatbest



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