The year was 2003, four men emerged from Glasgow with slim trousers, skinny ties and a song that would forevermore be met with raucous foot stomping and drunken singing in Whelan’s every night of the week.
That band was Franz Ferdinand and the song was Take Me Out. Fast forward to 2017 and Franz have returned minus lead guitarist Nick McCarthy, and joined by Julian Corrie (AKA Miaoux Miaoux) and Dino Bardot for their first album since 2013’s ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’.
With a change in line-up there is naturally going to be a change in style, and similar to a Doctor Who regeneration you won’t be able to please everyone. The new Franz Ferdinand’s avant-garde disco is definitely less accessible than their infectious guitar hooks of yore which put the band at the forefront of the indie scene of the mid-00s.
When it gets going title track Always Ascending is damn good disco synth track, once you get over the jarring differences between the intro and main body of the song. Alex Kapranos’ matter of fact velvet vocal draws you in to the more laid back tempo of The Academy Award. While fans of ‘Tonight’ will love Feel The Love Go, probably the most ‘Franz’ sounding song on the release.
Stand out of ‘Always Ascending’ Lois Lane kicks off with synth intro that wouldn’t be out of place on ‘70s dance floor, teamed with one the strongest bass hooks to ever feature on a Franz release. If not a planned future single it should be.
The album has it’s let downs such as the ill-advised Huck and Jim and Paper Cages which probably wouldn’t have made it to a B-side early in the band’s career.
‘Always Ascending’ is not a bad album, in fact it’s a very fine piece of work. However fans of the singalong, guitar riffs of ‘Franz Ferdinand’ and ‘You Could Have It So Much Better’ may well be bitterly disappointed.
As time goes on all bands must evolve, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. In this case it is hard to say if Franz Mark II is an improvement or a let-down; it would be like comparing apples and oranges. While some old fans will be lost, this new direction is likely to gain some new followers.
Franz Ferdinand is dead, long live Franz Ferdinand.