At this point you’ve likely heard “Ulysses” and its “funky” Spoonerisms in more than one form. We weren’t blown away by the track then (or now), but after listening to Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, we can understand why the guys chose it as the single: While nothing special, it’s better than most of the upbeat fare offered on the Kapranos crew’s followup to You Could Have It So Much Better. Yes, we could have it so much better, guys. We kid (a little), though compared to their past work, Tonight can often be insipid, especially considering they’re calling it their “night album” and are largely focusing on sex and the battle of the sexes. Going back to the choice of “Ulysses” as the album’s lead: The album’s best songs are really the slowest, quietest, and weirdest (relatively speaking). When they play with rougher post-punk-ish textures. When they focus less on the disco, even if they’ve made the latter work in the past.

After a couple passes, someone over here suggested that FF fucked up with the Tonight title and instead should’ve named the album after the track “Bite Hard.” Good one, but if you give it some time and are in a generous mood, there are decent moments. (The album isn’t quite a crime scene.) The reason we were hating on it initially is because the first few songs — the aforementioned “Ulysses,” “Turn It On,” and “No You Girls” — seem kinda whatever at best and kinda annoying at worst. Further into the album, though, the Glaswegian quartet pickup steam.

The change of pace offered by the psychedelic cuckoldry of “Send Him Away” is welcome after the generic disco hop. Same goes for the dark, oddly distant pulses of “Twilight Omens.” And, zings aside, from its Beatles-esque piano ballad to clapping strut “Bite Hard” is one of the better tracks — it possesses a post-punk kick. It’s followed by “What She Came For,” another track that succeeds, especially with its final, rougher bit of distortion. Or the electro (8-bit!) stereo explosion at the end of the almost 8-minute “Lucid Dreams.” It’s a moment that lives up to the idea of “night” music. It’s followed by the airy, dusky “Dream Again” (is that a Theremin in there?) and the acoustic love song “Katherine Kiss Me,” as if it really was the climax before sleepytime. Both of these two quieter bits are welcome, piloting Tonight into different textures and sounds. See, Franz Ferdinand are capable of good songs. On Tonight, when they venture too deep into generic disco, it feels like they forgot that fact.

If you want more info on the collection, the guys made this promotional video, where they laugh a lot and answer some questions:

Tonight: Franz Ferdinand is out 1/26 via Domino.

Comments (70)
  1. it is quite mediocre. i was expecting something new but these songs are simply poor copies of their previous efforts.

  2. franz ferdinand is simply a poor copy of previous bands, period.

  3. Chris  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    Am I the only one who wishes Franz would’ve taken “Eleanor Put Your Boots On” as a guide for their third album?

  4. I haven’t heard the album yet except for Ulysses, but if this review is true and you’re not being unnecessarily hard on them then that’s really disappointing. While watching the Ulysses video, I was thinking that this is the ideal time for FF to make a big come back. It just feels right. But, I guess maybe not…

  5. Layne  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    great record

  6. cliff b  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    I definitely like it more than this review did but was I the only one that thought send him away sounded a lot like yeasayer’s 2080…

  7. Jesse  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    i actually really like the album. what she came for = amazing

  8. Claude  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    excellent review. i agree 100%

  9. Strangely spritely evaluation- its had 5 or 6 spins on my podding device and it’s revealing more goodness each time. This review is might look a little slapdash in a month from now…

  10. I actually LOVED “ulysses”… i only listened to the album once so far, but I think it has potential. their debut was a first listen win for me though, but i loved music more back then.

  11. Well this sucks.
    I was counting on Franz Ferdinand to become one of those bands that dependably makes a grerat hit every time they step up to the plate (ala` The Beatles, The Shins, The Smiths, Blur).

    Oh well.

  12. Michael_  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    I wasn’t expecting there to be any hate for this album, so I’m surprised in Stereogum being so hard on it. I feel like the albums shows a ton of progression on Franz’s part, especially with the more electronic, danceable songs. There is a lot more texture and shifty instrumentation if you listen close. The slower songs are very well written, and the electronic outro to Lucid Dreams kills. This isn’t your usual Franz Ferdinand singles album. Its a complete work, and not one where you can skip any tracks to get to the good parts.

  13. Julia  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    Oh well. I’m buying it anyway.

  14. yeah  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    yean, sadly, this album sucks pretty hard

  15. Julie  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    I think it was a great album. Their music definitely improved and you can tell. They are experimenting with more stuff. It’s a step in the right direction.

  16. Zach H  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    the last record was terrific but clearly this is a step backwards

  17. matt  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    per usual stereogum misses. this shit is boss.

    • DominoIntern  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

      Hey Matt! Nice Job, did you fill the quota yet? I’ve got 3 more websites to comment positively about the new FF album , after let’s get pizza!!!


      XOXO LOL

  18. i feel like i just got out of a time machine and landed on planet ultragrrrl circa 2003.


  19. This is way better than Fleet Foxes.

  20. Brian  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    Hmmm… I kind of liked this album, though i do agree its way more off beat than thier previous work. Between you guys knocking “mainstream” bands all the time and then praising whatever pitchforks favorites all the time, i start to question why I’m still reading stereogum…

  21. Mr. J  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    Initially, I wasn’t impressed with this review, but after 5 or 6 more read-throughs, it’s starting to grow on me. Give it a chance, guys.

  22. Matt  |   Posted on Jan 13th, 2009 0

    I don’t know anyone can not love “No You Girls”

  23. grover  |   Posted on Jan 14th, 2009 0

    wait a second, this band has flirted with the mainstream and it’s their third record? it’s the perfect formula! no shit dudes, of course stereogum hates it

  24. Jono  |   Posted on Jan 14th, 2009 0

    It sounds like a B-sides collection to me. Pretty dissapointing.

  25. DDD  |   Posted on Jan 14th, 2009 0

    not surprised at this review. a lot of the clips/live performances just did not sound like there was good material there.

  26. James  |   Posted on Jan 14th, 2009 0

    This album is mediocre. They had some good singles in the past. Not every album by every band who was once popular is going to be great.

  27. jay  |   Posted on Jan 14th, 2009 0

    if the previous efforts are any guide i bet this record is not awesome but just ok and mostly a bit boring.

  28. eddie  |   Posted on Jan 14th, 2009 0

    haven’t heard this yet but i think they took too long from their previous album. i heard the single and I probably would have been happier with something similar to their previous album. not that this band has been that great anyway to be honest with ya’ll, but it would have just been nice to hear them excited about music like they were a couple of years ago.

  29. Wang of Four

  30. Heard the album for the first time yesterday, and I think it’s righteous. Love “No, You Girls” and “Bite Hard.” Can’t wait for them to tour.

  31. Kyle  |   Posted on Jan 14th, 2009 0

    Harmless fun.

  32. eric  |   Posted on Jan 14th, 2009 0

    am I the only one who loves “Live Alone”?

    The John Taylor bassline kills it.

  33. notsmokingcrack  |   Posted on Jan 14th, 2009 0

    You people are smoking crack. This is by far my favorite FF album. It has such attitude and bounce to all the tracks. I love how they call it their ‘night’ album and the arc of it flows like a night on the town culminating in the electro jam ending of Lucid Dreams only to taper off in the last two come-down tracks. Im enjoying this more than the beloved Merriweather Post Pavillion and have a new respect for FF because of it.

    If you like dance rock that keeps it real, this album will have you pitching a tent for the whole play-through.

    • I couldn’t agree more, except for the part about it being my favourite. Have to listen to it a little more before I decide on whether or not I like it better than their debut, but overall after two spins, I love it, and I don’t understand why it shouldn’t be picking up rave reviews all around.

  34. edog  |   Posted on Jan 14th, 2009 0

    These guys definitely waited too long between albums. However, I can’t think of a song as solid as “Ulysses” that has hit alt-rock radio in the past year. This song has been in my head for a week, blessedly killing the ringing in my ears that has been Katie Perry (boys, thank you!). The other tracks I’ve heard are solid. I’m psyched this album is almost here.

  35. porter  |   Posted on Jan 14th, 2009 0

    Even when FF were *good* they were mediocre. After hearing the single I won’t even bothering stealing it off the net.

  36. sebrown000  |   Posted on Jan 15th, 2009 0

    Crazy talk. Anyone skipping this album because Stereogum panned it is missing out on what’s easily their best album. Early reviews have mostly been in the 3.5-4 star range and message board fan reactions across internet land have been highly positive. Me thinks Stereogum just wants to be contrary, or just isn’t impressed anymore with music not made to play in the background whilst sipping lattes.

  37. adelaide  |   Posted on Jan 15th, 2009 0

    you would have to be hypnotised to enjoy that bloody song.

  38. Greg  |   Posted on Jan 15th, 2009 0

    Damn, this review smacks of predisposition. While I don’t think it’s an amazing album, it isn’t bad and certainly not worthy of such dismissal.

    How bout another Dan Deacon post, dawgs?

  39. tommy  |   Posted on Jan 15th, 2009 0

    coldplay: once cool, now “mainstream.” bloc party: once cool, now “mainstream.” franz ferdinand: once cool, now “mainstream.”

    all three put out albums within the past year. all three have premature evaluations that absolutely PAN what are actually pretty decent albums. (not fantastic or ground-breaking by any means, but certainly not terrible.)

    as you can tell, im sensing a trend here…i personally can’t wait for the premature evaluation of no line on the horizon…

    stereogum, get your head out of pitchforks and animal collectives collective asses.

  40. ‘Bite Hard’ sounds a LOT like ‘Call Me’ by Blondie…strangely enough, Franz covered that song for that War Child CD. Shenanigans?

  41. “Premature Evaluation” is an accurate title for this series ? this would have been my initial reaction too. This is one of those albums that sounded really mediocre to me at first, but after repeat listenings is actually sounding pretty damn good. It’s no Microcastle, but it’s not a disappointment either.

  42. Now if they’d only tour with TV on the Radio and Cut Copy again…

  43. Dustin G  |   Posted on Jan 16th, 2009 0

    I am a white male and this album makes me want to dance. Also, “What She Came For” will be the most fun song released in 2009.

  44. archduke  |   Posted on Jan 17th, 2009 0

    This album makes me want to do coke and fuck.

  45. Christian  |   Posted on Jan 17th, 2009 0

    Now that I’ve listened through a few times, I’m really baffled by this review. This album is very, very solid. Right now, I like it more than I did their last album. It sounds like they are really refining what they want to do. There is more synth, but they still keep that new wave Talking Heads feel. The vocals are great. Tonight has way more hooks than You Could Have It…

    Listen again, SG. This is solid stuff.

  46. Completely disagree with this review, this is a fantastic album and easily one of the best I’ve heard in recent months. I agree that the only reason Stereogum isn’t fawning over them is because they’re not Fleet Foxes or Animal Collective. Seriously guys? Calling Merriweather Post Pavillion the best album of the year after 2 weeks of January? I mean it’s great but that’s just a bit too much fanwanking for my tastes.

  47. Mugulala  |   Posted on Jan 18th, 2009 0

    I enjoyed negging every comment on this thread way more than i did the record.

  48. louis  |   Posted on Jan 19th, 2009 0

    i’ve heard the entire album and it is actually really really good

  49. Jeff  |   Posted on Jan 19th, 2009 0

    Ummm… what’s not to like? It sounds like Franz Ferdinand, only trying something a bit new. If you like the band, I don’t see how you couldn’t like the album. And if you don’t like the band, why are you listening? durr.

  50. 0rko  |   Posted on Jan 20th, 2009 0

    Huh? Did we listen to the same album? This review is so off-base it’s mind-boggling.

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