Franz Ferdinand - Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
Record Label: Domino Records
Release Date: January 27, 2009
Franz Ferdinand were the best “big” band in the world. You loved “Take Me Out”, but you quickly passed its creators off. You’re a fool. Honestly, my plan isn’t to just word-smack you, the reader, because let’s face it; you’re all that’s keeping me alive. (My mother thanks you and wishes you well.) But you’re sleeping on these guys and there is no tolerance for such folly. Tonight: Franz Ferdinand zig-zags from dance floor to coffee shop to out-of-season arena without ever asking for directions. The band’s ability to roam freely is daydream fodder for us 9-to-5 types. But hey, maybe my grossly overstated generalizations are incorrect. Maybe you’ve been bathing in the steamy waters of Franz Ferdinand for years. Let’s hope so.
Tonight: Franz Ferdinand is certainly the band’s most diverse album. Retro-punk posturing (“What She Came For”) mingles effortlessly with arena-ready guitar rock (“No You Girls”); styles are discarded as quickly as they are used, but each new moment is one of grand exploration. Alex Kapranos croons about with a ferocity and confrontational edge that somehow makes lines like, “I typed your number / Into my calculator / Where it spelled a dirty word / When you turned it upside down / You can turn my dirty word / right way ‘round,” sound an inch short of genius. “Twilight Omens”, where the previous line can be found, may also be the band’s crowning achievement to this point. Its synthetic, new-wave vibe is the song most likely to cause spontaneous, furious, embarrassing dancing.
I say diverse, but that’s only in the context of Franz Ferdinand's dance-rock aesthetic. Each song is suitable for hip-shaking. It’s merely the style of hip-shaking that is so varied. “Bitte Hard” is for the slow-moving coffee shop crowd, the last three minutes of 7-minute “Lucid Dreams” is for dirty ravers, and single “Ulysses” is truly universal. Put that song on a dance floor and watch your grandparents waltz (or some other old people dance?) next to your hippie grooving parents. If you find time to stop laughing at the scene around you, grab a partner and start stoically nodding in the direction of the DJ, you know, as is our generation’s custom.
Most attentive listeners can tell when a band has realized their vision. Tonight: Franz Ferdinand glimmers with met expectations. From each guitar solo (and there are, thankfully, many) to every intriguing focus shift, Franz Ferdinand nail it. Kapranos sounds better than ever and even Nick McCarthy’s keys find their own niche to exploit. Much of this can be attributed to the chameleon-like production of Dan Carey. He matches each new style - see the grime on “What She Came For” or the eeriness of “Dream Again” for examples - in competent, accommodating ways. It’s rare to find an album that fits so many moods, but Tonight: Franz Ferdinand is truly one-stop listening.
Recommended If You Like: Bloc Party meets Dogs Die in Hot Cars, The Futureheads, rainbows, Gang of Four meets Arctic Monkeys, Baskin Robbins' 31 flavors
Good review. I realized how much I was missing out after seeing them live at KROQ's Almost Acoustic. These guys definitely put on a good show. Only hope their studio work is as good. Hopefully I'll pick this up somewhere along the way.