Review: Tonight (Franz Ferdinand)

Photo courtesy of Flickr and dq.

Photo courtesy of Flickr and dq.

It’s a very different indie-pop universe now to the one Franz Ferdinand triumphantly conquered in 2004 with the release of their eponymous debut album. Then, their unique mixture of infectious dance-rock and subtle wit captured hearts in discos up and down the country, but now it’s no longer such a novelty. Rather than trailblazers, Franz are lost in a sea of Kooks, Macabees and other pretty boys with guitars trying to lure girls onto the dance floor. Considering the muted response to their 2006 follow-up You Could Have It So Much Better, the pressure is on for their latest release. Do they really have what it takes to stay fresh amongst the young pretenders?

Seemingly, the initial answer is yes. Tonight is seeping with disco-hooks, jangling guitars and, most of all, swaggering confidence. Opening track and lead single ‘Ulysses’ kicks things off with a confident swagger, a dark-glam monster with nasty synthesisers, rhythmic handclaps and a fantastic sing-along chorus of ‘La, la la la la”. Other stomping highlights include ‘Turn It On’, which channels the collective spirit of XTC, Television and Blondie and unleashes it on 21st century Britain, and the nagging jagged guitar lines of ‘Bite Hard’.

But eventually, it all becomes too much. The unrelenting pace and one-dimensional tone of Tonight becomes fatiguing rather than exhilarating. Devoid of variety and depth, it may make you tap your toes but it won’t get inside your head. Only the lovely bittersweet tenderness of ‘Katherine Kiss Me’ offers any respite, but by then it’s too late. Highly-polished and stylised, Tonight is a fine collection of meticulous guitar-pop, but in a market saturated with competitors, it ultimately lacks the guile or edge to have any true longevity.

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~ by benjaminhewitt on February 25, 2009.

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