Franz Ferdinand – Tonight / Blood
I love Franz Ferdinand. For two main reasons; firstly despite all the flummery that accompanies any of their releases, (“street” producers, the odd attempt at being “experimental” and knowing winks to art-school pop for us old gits to smilingly recognise), all they want to do is get people dancing. Any band that doesn’t recognise the fact that the world moves on a woman’s hips, had better have a pretty hot counter argument. Secondly they are into L.O.V.E. love. Boy-girl slag-off matches, snogging, hot breath, panty hose, sniggering at dirty words. I lose count at the number of times Mr Kapranos alludes to these things in his lyrics.
I also love their brazen determination (despite all aforementioned flummery with producers etc), to continue with certain trusted formulas. Like all good artists they realise the value of perfecting their best tricks. In the ‘Nand’s case, it’s a mid tempo dance-floor stomper, replete with love story tag-line which is pitched at a pace that allows blokes with no co-ordination to feel safe in dancing with the fragrant object of their desire. So; where there was once Take Me Out, and then Do You Want To?, we now have Ulysses, or Can’t Stop Feeling for that matter.
I will say this though; Franz have got groovier and poppier. Sod Postcard, let’s reinvent Donna Summer (or exploit the Mott the Hoople-isms in Bite Hard). This development is a very good thing indeed. The sound does nod back to previous pop glories: for some reason, whilst listening to stuff like Turn it On or No You Girls I was reminded - totally tangentially, I am sure - of Kilimanjaro-era Teardrop Explodes, or a beefed up Roxy Music debut LP, albeit without the acid groove or Eno-weirdouts respectively. Rather more embarrassingly for hip types who like FF, (but I’m sure not for them) a close acquaintance pointed out that listening to this LP was akin to listening to a good Duran Duran, (in the sense of imagining for a moment Duran ever actually being any good).
Still, they’re nothing if not diverse. Send Him Away plays with 60s Garage band pop song structures (Seeds anyone?) and the accompanying disc; Blood (billed as Dub LP, but in reality being closer to the Orb than King Tubby) has some spectacular moments and some duff ones. But the band is tough enough, & up-for-it enough to do this sort of experimentalism to its own work within a pop frame. And it’s the thumbs up from me.
The best stuff in undoubtedly the last handful of tracks, ranging from über-kitsch Boney M moments via sublime high gloss grooves to white noise freak outs, starting with What She Came For’s Sweet/Alice-style glam stomp and ending with their greatest tracks to date, the ramshackle, Neanderthal, lurid Lucid Dreams and the classic sleepwalker (no pun intended) Dream Again. The only downer is the fact that they don’t carry on that fab Dave Balfe-style synth outro on Live Alone for at least 15 minutes.
This is a hell of a strong LP, in my books their best; and a definite grower.
Words: Richard Foster