Review of Franz Ferdinand's album 'Tonight' released through Domino.
The bald fact is that it's taken Franz Ferdinand nearly four years to follow up 2005's You Could Have Had It So Much Better with Tonight:Franz Ferdinand. The story behind it's lengthy gestation period has been in danger of becoming far more interesting than any record could ever be though; dalliances with production teams, afrobeat, hip hop and irate pensioners making for an intriguing backdrop.
After all the false starts Hot Chip collaborator Dan Carey was brought in to helm and the band settled into a grimy former drug rehabilitation unit in Govan to chisel out what seemed have become the quintessential 'difficult third album'.
Tonight:Franz Ferdinand somewhat inevitably has a lot riding on it. The indie-pop map the band had gouged such a niche in way back when has changed subtly in the last six months, with the doomy ritz of Glasvegas and White Lies supplanting the lad-about-town hubris of The Pigeon Detectives et al in popular taste terms.
Fans concerned that FF have gone all Vampire Weekend can breathe a sign of relief. Opener Ulysses - complete with clavinet and hip shaking white funk patina - is as close to Take Me Out's college disco esprit de corps as the band have ever subsequently got and a reminder of why we loved them so much in the first place. The much publicised african influences are background to the point of invisibility, only surfacing on Send Him Away, an otherwise understated amalgam of sixties pop and psychedelic organ whose lack of pristine gloss makes it one of the record's most appealing moments.
There's still room for a journey into teenage nudge-wink fantasising, as Alex Kapranos confesses on Twilight Omens to typing his object of desire's phone number into his calculator and it spelling 'A dirty word', whilst a keyboard hook worthy of ABBA elevates the music way above the smut. There's a great deal of familiarity too around the self proclaimed 'Dirty pop' of No You Girls and the Hot Chip-esque DIY electronica of Dream Again, but possibly most significant moment is the sprawling conclusion to the seven minute Lucid Dreams. Whilst it begins traditionally enough with words about utopia, eventually it's subsumed into white noise and dubby guitar chords before then being swamped by burbling techno synths. Kapranos even hinted recently that this nascent club orientation might be more than a temporary destination. It's a hint at reinvention, but only a hint. Tonight..is still undeniably a Franz Ferdinand album. It seems that for all the self examination, the conclusion the quartet reached was that if it ain't broke, then no reason to disenfranchise several million impatient fans. The only obvious question that it doesn't conclusively answer is whether it was worth the wait, but here you sense only yet more time will tell.