The bass is pumping, the symbols are splashing, the synthesizers are having at it in the first sounds of the new Franz Ferdinand album.
Yes, the Scottish rockers have taken a stab at dance music, and it’s clear that they, well, rocked it. Though they’ve developed a liking for keyboards and synthesizers, they haven’t lost the style that made them famous. In fact, it may have even made them more infectious.
“Ulysses,” the first single off the album, is proof. They ease you in – starting out with a quiet combination of bass, high hat-heavy drums and Alex Kapranos singing at almost a whisper. Then, in a moment you’ve been subconsciously anticipating, the synthesizers and guitars enter at full force, and Kapranos lets loose. Add in catchy rhythms and lyrics, and you’ve got Franz Ferdinand’s next hit.
Two particular points of interest on this album are the wildly different, yet eerily similar songs, “No You Girls” and “Katherine Kiss Me.”
“No You Girls” is third on the album and much in the same style as “Ulysses.” On the other hand, “Katherine Kiss Me” is soft and mellow with pretty acoustic guitar. The lyrics are what make them interesting. They’re very similar, and in some cases, almost identical. Take these few lines in comparison:
Katherine Kiss Me
“Katherine, kiss me
Flick your cigarette, then kiss me
Flick your eyes at mine so briefly”
No You Girls
“Oh, kiss me
Lick your cigarette, then kiss me
Kiss me where your eye won’t meet me”
The the difference in sentiment of these lyrics is absolutely reflected in the styles of each song. “Katherine Kiss Me” sounds like a loving request, while “No You Girls” sounds more like a demand. All in all, it makes for an interesting experiment in style.
On a similar note, “Tonight” also includes two songs of the same name: “Lucid Dreams.” If this were the soundtrack to a musical, one of them would be titled “Lucid Dreams Reprise.” The first falls just short of being eight minutes long and the second, two tracks later, runs three minutes and 42 seconds. The only significant differences are the intro and extensive instrumental outro in the first, where the band really has fun with the synthesizers.
Though it wasn’t titled a reprise, the second “Lucid Dreams” certainly feels like one. It fits perfectly as the last track on the album, giving a sense of finality with it’s return to an earlier chorus. However, in the age of iPods and shuffling, the effect can easily be lost.
Overall, this album is a new vibe for Franz Ferdinand. They’ve always kept feet tapping and heads bopping, but the synthesized beats of “Tonight” double that effect. What is truly impressive though, is that they avoided sounding like manufactured pop – engineered hits. They’ve still got rock-n-roll souls.
Whether you’re judging the album as a whole or for its parts though, it sounds like a triumph for Franz Ferdinand. They have successfully avoided producing more of the same, saving themselves and their fans from boredom.