Franz Ferdinand
Always Ascending


3.5
great

Review

by former sputnik's home post-punk maester USER (110 Reviews)
February 9th, 2018 | 26 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: “Oh, I love this song.” “Me too.” “Actually, I’m getting kind of sick of it.”

Given the upbeat nature of Franz Ferdinand’s music, I am surprised it took this long for them to fully delve into the electronic side of things. And now that they are there, I am surprised it is not just an Electropop album, but rather one that uses those techniques on the surface level. Everything else surrounding that stayed exactly the same.

How does a band become known for its song-writing and not for its musical style" Somehow, the boys of the band affectionately named after an assassinated Austrian archduke managed to create their essential, instantly recognisable and unquestionably clear trademark in the way they approach their tunes, hooks and choruses, instead of the more usual uniqueness or impressive structuring of instrumentation and production. And as an ultimate proof of that, here we have a nearly entirely electronically based album that is perhaps not essential, but conspicuously archetypal Franz Ferdinand record, and that all merely due to the unmistakeable nature of their songs’ catchiness and simple playfulness.

All-in-all, you can say all the same about Always Ascending as you would about any other Franz Ferdinand record (surprisingly enough, even their collaboration with Sparks… voice of four beats voice of two, I suppose), amending that this has a much more prominent synthesiser layering and electronic production. So what could be said about this record should be said not in general, but individually about each track. They should be analysed and judged separately, because as a whole –well –they might hold up with the rest of the band’s discography just as well.

It all starts off innocently enough with the first and lead single off the album, also being its title track. While a mildly enjoyable effort in and of itself, on the long-run it seems rather forgettable. The refrain lands sloppily and the build-up and arrangement sound either out-of-place or moderately tepid. But the following “Lazy Boy” sets the record straight (literally and figuratively) on who’s behind all of this, as the song bursts out with the old usual Franz Ferdinand flare and punch we grew to love. It almost sounds like a sort of a sequel to “This Boy” from their sophomore release, presenting this abstract hypothetical character, whose lifestyle and mindset is filled with carefree joy and oblivious flamboyancy.

With “Paper Cages”, however, starts a rather long and excruciating streak of perfectly unremarkable songs, going through “Finally”, “Lois Lane” and to “Huck and Jim”, each of whom contain quite forgettable hooks that fail to hit home, due to their softened and smoothed out sound. One might have a better chorus, other better lyrics and one a more pleasing guitar work, but in the end they are all, contrary to the previously stated theory of this record’s songs’ individuality, as one. The only real exception (and an exception on the whole album) is the song “The Academy Award”, which is an unexpected acoustic ballad without a real chorus, but with an atmospheric build-up instead.

The punch and poignancy returns to the album with “Glimpse of Love”, which features a cheesy, but still working tune; then “Feel the Love Again”, where the band finds itself in a purposefully silly and obnoxious arrangement technique, but one that results in a much more striking baggage. And all leading to the most emotionally charged and musically touching cut, as it tends to be the case with Franz’s music, “Slow Don’t Kill Me Slow”, the closer. A song, which is still a playful kookiness in its core, but with a much milder and benign angle to it, and it offers a satisfying and quite pretty finish to the whole album’s experience.

And that is that. What appears more surprising to me is not anything particular on the album, but rather the fact that there is enough to talk about for this long. Much like the whole experience itself, you can find a paragraph or two enjoyable for a different reason or you might find them bland and creatively stiff, however in the end it is the author’s regular dosage of blabbery. Bottom line, the album is stupid fun. Get into it or get over it.



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user ratings (71)
Chart.
2.9
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Papa Universe
February 8th 2018


16571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

any corrections welcome..

Digging: VRCVS - VRCVS

Dewinged
February 8th 2018


10821 Comments


"fully delve into (the) electronic side of things"

"the build-up with arrangement sound(s) either"

Last para feels a bit abusive with the "but" usage, maybe?

That'd be all! Good write up Uni!

Digging: Tomberlin - At Weddings

Papa Universe
February 8th 2018


16571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

First an last correction I'll take, but in the second thing I am talking about the build-up AND arrangement, which is probably what I should change it to.

Nevertheless, bless you, darling.

dfevil085
February 8th 2018


1151 Comments


I didn't realize this was coming out. Gonna have to check it later.

ArtBox
February 8th 2018


265 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Gotta jump on this ASAP, band's usually pretty reliable even if their output has slowed down

polyrhythm
February 8th 2018


1924 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Probably in the minority, but I think their last couple albums were their best yet. Will check this out posthaste

Faraudo
February 9th 2018


2234 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This is pretty good tbf.

Digging: Mac Miller - Swimming

polyrhythm
February 9th 2018


1924 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Ehh, last album was way better. This might prove their weakest overall. Bummer

bloc
February 9th 2018


51274 Comments


Debut is godly, and there are some sweet tracks spread out over the rest of their discog.

However, I hold a grudge against the frontman, because my gf and I were in the front row at one of their shows in 2017 and he touched her outstretched hand. She was freaking out with glee of course, but I, on the other hand, was steaming lmao

Digging: Psychotic Waltz - Bleeding

Papa Universe
February 9th 2018


16571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

well, that's grounds for divorce, mate

rodrigo90
February 9th 2018


4576 Comments


It was yesterday when franz ferdinand released the dark of the matinee.

Papa Universe
February 9th 2018


16571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

and now they're full on into dance-pop

WhiteNoise
February 10th 2018


3615 Comments


Man this might just be my least favourite from them

The debut of course is untouchable but apart from that I would say tonight is their best. Such an underrated album.

DoofusWainwright
February 10th 2018


20004 Comments


Always ass - ending? Apparently not

polyrhythm
February 10th 2018


1924 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

@WhiteNoise I think Tonight and RTRWRA are their best, both strong 4s / light 4.5s

Papa Universe
February 10th 2018


16571 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I don't think they had any misstep up until now.

SowingSeason
Moderator
February 10th 2018


27430 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

these guys lost it when they dove into electronics on Tonight and never recovered



"no you girls" ruined their career

Digging: Foxing - Nearer My God

polyrhythm
February 10th 2018


1924 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

No You Girls is one cheesy pop song on an otherwise rock solid album. And the last album features almost no electronics at all... not that they're a bad thing, inherently or in FF's hands

Funkymunk
February 11th 2018


5 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review for a good album.

TwigTW
February 12th 2018


3349 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'm over it, but still... it's a nice review, pos.

Digging: Kathryn Joseph - From When I Wake the Want Is



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