Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending Review

14 years ago, the Glaswegian quartet Franz Ferdinand revitalised the idea of indie-disco with the uproarious Take Me Out; a decade-defining track, filled to the brim the now-iconic hooks, legendary lyrics and oomph of power-hungry bass. All those years on, and the now-five-piece have never really come close to matching the spectacular heights of their sophomore single, with their fifth LP, Always Ascending, offering only making a half-hearted attempt.

The album kicks off with the title track, unassuming as it whirs into action, before bursting into a thumping mix of synth, repetitive lyrics and some shuffling percussion. This – alongside many of the other tracks – focus on the ‘disco’ part of ‘indie-disco’, finding footing in the more mechanical side to their sound. Lead single Feel the Love Go hinted at this new direction from the off, with it’s best quality being the sizzling, bass-y synth that underscores much of the song. Lois Lane, despite its pessimistic lyrics, is perked up by the irresistible 80s snap off bass, before transforming into an enflamed, grittier chant towards the end. While much of the indie scene use synths to create ambience, or exciting drops, Franz Ferdinand make the mechanics they’re own, by bleeding disco with no-nonsense rock to make for an iconic, interesting sound. Although, the sound does feels muddled at points, the ideas a little lost in translation.

The album also gets a bit political at times. Track list highlight Huck and Jim notions towards the divide in American and British politics boosted by shuddering bass and catchy lyrics. Darker themes are also explored elsewhere in the moodier tracks, like The Academy Award and Slow Don’t Kill Me Slow, the wispy, monotone tracks showing another diverse side to the band’s style, but also falling flat. The former is repetitive and boring. The latter is just boring.

Once again, Franz Ferdinand haven’t reached the brilliance of their previous material, though there are some noteworthy songs to listen out for. However, the claim to be always ascending, in this case, is unfortunately not true.

Franz Ferdinand – Always Ascending: 5/10

Ellie Chivers

Single Review – Franz Ferdinand – Feel The Love Go

Prior to the release of Always Ascending, Scottish rockers Franz Ferdinand dropped Feel the Love Go; a song founded in a squelchy synth bassline and the quickening *tss* *tss* of hissing cymbals. With lyrics seemingly written by just throwing together a bunch of repeated words – though undeniably pretty catchy – the band, including new members Dino Bardot and Julian Corrie, have put forward nothing hugely ground-breaking, but something a no-nonsense robotic rock record, perked up with some sax towards the end to round off the track in a more promising way than it starts. The instrumentals are definitely the best quality of the song, merging sizzling electronics with back-to-basics indie. The band’s fifth studio album is set for release on February 9th.

Eleanor Chivers

Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action Review

The Glaswegian Indie rockers are back after four years and when I say Indie this time, I mean it in one of more literal ways. Sort of like Indie definition c.2004. They’ve spent quite some time working on their fourth album and what can be said is that much of that time did not involve sort of pre-plugging the album as they did in the past and which was something Alex Kapranos regretted and was something that didn’t occur this time around. Another thing was that some fans had perhaps drifted by the Tonight album and it somewhat harmed their position of one of the reliable heavyweight bands in the world even though the album was still pretty solid. Right Thoughts… is an album that will probably attract some fans of their earlier work due to the more guitar driven elements within it but coupled with enough quirks that make it sound less generic; and their nearly a decades worth of development as musicians since their first album to maybe even consider it their best work yet and one of the highlights of 2013.

‘Right Action’ features a funk-like guitar riff from the rhythm section, coupled with a simple, two toned bass line that makes the whole song rhythmic in a steady way and it’s relative simplicity is what makes it like that and is reflected by an uncomplicated set of lines on each verse that lead up to the ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words Right Action’ part which sort of acts as the chorus but in a way is just the conclusion of the verse. In addition to this; I defy you not to have that part stuck in your head as well. The vocal and instrumental build up to it makes it hard not to. As does it’s repetitiveness. This is why the song works well. It’s a rock-pop song showcased through an unconventional structure but one that struts and shines confidently. This is expanded upon a big way with ‘Love Illumination’. The deep and gritty riff with it’s subtle distortion is also even more catchy than that of ‘Right Action’ and this time it’s partnered by a deeper and isolated bass line sound that tumbles up and down on the chorus and bridge. The Saxophone (Come back from behind your pillow) is used in a great way in that it’s part of the instrumentals fabric of the song and really gives the song even more depth and texture and just gives a more unique feel rather than using it for the sole purpose of a cheesy and predictable solo towards the end. The guitar solo though more typical; maintains the urgency of the song and is used for a climax of vocals and instrumentals before one last blast of the chorus and the synth solo earlier on in the song has the effect of giving the song another hook of which their are plenty with the riff throughout and the rousing vocals in the chorus including the harmonies too. This also ensures the song is packed full of melody and it’s one of the best singles I’ve heard this year.

Songs such as ‘Evil Eye’ have the same sort of bass groove that many expect from the Arctic Monkeys in September. The harmonies are spot on and the Alex’s vocal itself is echoed and sort of empties it’s own space while the instrumentals leave little space and the song oddly acts on those two levels like that which is a testament to very capable composition and production. ‘Goodbye Lovers and Friends’ easily falls in and out of various sounds and tones from the considered and slightly sinister to the rhythmic and melodic to the groove filled with Alex effortlessly reconfiguring his vocals for each part with ease. ‘Fresh Strawberries’ have a more smooth sound to it with a sort of 60’s pop song quality to it in the riff and the harmonies that incorporates slight elements of the late 80’s indie sound too. Almost like a Smith Western’s track. The whole album is quite varied and you’ll be hard pressed to find weak parts to the album as on the whole it’s very solid. There’s also something quite British about the album lyrically with references to the South Shields Metro and Blackpool etc. which just adds to the appeal and gives a sense of familiarity to it all as well. Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is by no means innovative or pushing any particular boundaries but it’s too slick and sharp to shoot down for it. They’ve put together a few novel combinations too, to make the album seem fresh and the typical Franz Ferdinand style is sort of unique in itself and so channelled through all that its a triumph for Franz Ferdinand and in with a shout of being their best album for sure.

Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action = 8.5/10

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