I look upon 2004 as a time of turmoil and tragedy. The great John Peel evaporated to the invisible radio station in the sky, Bill Murray made a terrible Garfield film and the British music scene was flooded with an influx of stale guitar bands; dark times indeed. Franz Ferdinand, however, manifested themselves as the lighthouse in this shitstorm of mediocrity. With tunes tighter than their trousers they proved that choruses could once again be exciting and that being a glorified Oasis cover band was not, nor ever was, cool. After a disappointingly chaotic and disillusioned release in 2009 with Tonight, the Glaswegian quartet have returned re-energized and ready to reassess my allegiance to the 19th century Austrian archduke.
Opening track Right Action’s first line incarcerates the essence of this album so aptly that after 20 seconds I was ready to turn the record off totally satisfied with what Franz had accomplished over the last four years. “Come home practically all is nearly forgiven”. Whether it’s a self-deprecating statement or not it’s punchy, witty and appropriately fitting for the instrumental accompaniment. If Take Me Out, Dark of The Matinee and Do You Want To had an illegitimate child in a hilariously sit-com style scenario it would pertinently capture how danceable and unexpectantly homely this track sounds; a standard that is kept up throughout this record.
What stands out among all things stylistic is frontman Kapranos’ gravitas and delivery with his vocals. On sophomore track Evil Eye which features themes of superstition pinches and ripples of paranoia come through on his voice. Whereas on tracks Love Illumination the 60s fuzzed out guitars take the spotlight. A style of phasing which has been recently popularised and noticeably patented by Arctic Monkeys since 2012. Saying that, Franz have really made it their own with what I like to call the Franz Pulse Groove. As has been the case with the last three albums FF rhythm sections tend to follow the pattern of upstroke guitars giving the tracks the kick and edge which put them ahead of the other blah-blah bands back in 2004 and is still present on this release on songs such as Brief Encounters.
Credit given where credit is due but it must be noted dear reader that FF have made Will upset with the length of the record. At the 35 minute mark I was saddened by the presence of tracks such as The Universe Expanded which meander. Normally (and rightfully so) album length has no measure on the quality of the overall experience however with this track I was irked by the stale instrumentation on this love story told in reverse, a great concept but not landed with grace; similar to watching a impressively scripted film with bland actors.
Not to say I didn’t enjoy this record I feel that when this album swung true it hit home which easily forgives the unconvincing and clumsier moments on this album. Alex Kapranos’ wry wit and Jarvis Cocker channeled flair is and always will be entertaining to me however I wonder for how much longer Franz can keep this style up. Although saying that: it’s 2013 and Franz Ferdinand are still kings in their own Indie-Pop right. Where do you think The Enemy right now? I’ll give you a clue. Not making any music anymore.