Premature Evaluation

Premature Evaluation: Franz Ferdinand – Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

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.