Musings on music delivered when I dig myself out.

Franz Ferdinand -- You Could Have It So Much Better
Sony/Domino; 2005

Like a green banana or a baby chick still damp from its eggshell prison-break, Franz Ferdinand is in a state of transition. Last year's spunky, self-titled debut offered up historically informed post-punk that inspired hundreds of pinstripe outfits. A little more than a year later, audiences have let the Franz get a little dusty -- a move which strangely works in the band's favor. Seemingly endless touring has darkened the group's sound, finding them weary of bopping around to backbeats all the time. After regrouping away from public scrutiny, Franz Ferdinand has released You Could Have It So Much Better. This time around the band seems less intent on preciseness, issuing songs that are fulfilling but not necessarily cooked all the way through.

After one listen, fans of the group's debut might find themselves typing furiously to their likewise indie friends, "What the hell happened?" Although the group hasn't done anything drastic like abandon guitars (those rockists), dancing has left its post as the group's primary objective. In the midst of a few danceable tracks, the Franz opts for depth, trying its hand at forceful, new wave rock and occasionally dabbling in spacious ballads. From singer Alex Kapranos's demure howl to the vintage, razor wire guitar lines, to the group's well-loved harmonies, all of the popular components remain.

Where the Franz Ferdinand sees its greatest departure is in tone. Maybe jaded by brushes with music's corporate side, hurt from a love affair of indie proportions, or worn down by life on the road -- the result is a grimmer, more cynical sonic approach. "Evil & A Heathen" rocks a sinister rockabilly influence with a devilish grin. The hurt and snotty attitude of "You're the Reason I'm Leaving" leaks into the tune's melody. And what good and gloomy album would be without a song called "I'm Your Villain"? Even You Could...'s sunnier tracks are melodically partly clouded. That Franz Ferdinand acknowledged their collective mood instead of forcing a happy demeanor is to their credit.

Venturing outside of familiar musical territory has its risks, and sometimes the band's ideas don't quite make the leap from concept to sound. "This Boy" is a mess of a song that stumbles back and forth between opposing and ill-suited melodies. FF goes against its tuneful instincts on "I'm Your Villain," getting all awkward and minor in all the wrong places. "You Could Have It So Much Better" could be easily refashioned as an Art Brut track and done, unsurprisingly, better. Even "Do You Want To," the 2005 answer to "Take Me Out," fails to execute the pop tricks the Franz employed the first go-round.

Despite their failures, innovation also provides for some of the best songs on You Can.... The heartfelt "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" and "Fade Together" borrow adoringly from The Beatles and Kinks, using piano, harmonica and acoustic strums to full romantic effect. The band hits all of sweetest notes while deciphering ladyspeak on "What You Meant." FF rocks the hardest on its rockabilly joint "Evil & A Heathen," looking death in the eye and snarling right back.

So change is good then, no? In the case of Franz Ferdinand, deviating from an award-winning musical style (literally) is both a gift and curse. While still wet behind the ears when it comes to not inciting dance parties, You Can Have It So Much Better is a testament to the group's wit and creative abilities. But if this is a sophomore slump it's an impressive one. The band might have benefited from sitting on these tracks a while longer, allowing more time for wrinkles to be smoothed out and fluff to dry out. The album's title is a knowing wink to the band's mistakes and an assurance that improvement is on the way.

E-mail this post

Remember me (?)

All personal information that you provide here will be governed by the Privacy Policy of More...

0 Responses to “”

Leave a Reply

      Convert to boldConvert to italicConvert to link


I Got Love For

ATOM 0.3

Establish Contact:

Previous posts


Add to your Kinja digest