New Franz Ferdinand! I always felt that Franz transcended the glut of mid-2000’s indie that rushed in on their coattails, and sure enough here they still are in 2017, producing music that is interesting and fresh. Always Ascending features lots of synth action, with moments that even recall Soulwax. Released by Domino.
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- WIGLP408X / LAST AVAILABLE COPIES WITH SLIGHTLY DAMAGED SLEEVE! Indies only, exclusive vinyl pink vinyl LP + 8 page-booklet + 24” x 24” fold-out poster
- Includes download code
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Franz Ferdinand have done that thing where they replace one leaving member with multiple new members (see also the Stone Roses at Reading '96, various incarnations of Last of the Summer Wine) as if it somehow stops people from noticing that a major cog has departed. They now look utterly preposterous - I mean.... leopardskin jacket? Their new music also shows signs of trying to defy the ageing process. Much of 'Always Ascending' could be comparable to Edwyn Collins trying to sound like LCD Soundsystem.
The opening title track is a shambles, veering from one style to another and screaming 'WE ARE TRYING TO BE CUTTING EDGE' so much that it gets lost in its own tail chasing. 'Lazy Boy' repeats its title so often that it seems like it's trying to compete with 2 Unlimited's 'No Limits' as most repetitive ever refrain. At least its chorus is sort of catchy but its production and construction suggests all is not well in the Ferdinand camp. It's all so flabby. Long gone is the lean post punk band of yore, instead an overthought, overwrought, over produced mess of a band has emerged. They have one thing still going for them and that is reasonably catchy choruses but the thing is you get really bored waiting for them as the band battle to make their way through overelaborate verses and confused middle eights. 'Finally' is like when you accidentally take the long bus home. It goes here, it goes there, it severely tests your patience before 'Finally' (ha!) arriving at its destination.
By the time I reach 'The Academy Award' (sample lyrics: "my wife is such a fan", "the academy award for good times goes to you") I've had sufficient of this sprawling mess. "You Make Good Choices" they intone on 'Lois Lane' ("at the over 30s singles night"- are they, by chance, repeating themselves ?) which is slathered with so much Nick Rhodes synth that it's hard to find what is actually beneath. Sadly on this album Franz Ferdinand have made awful choices but even having said that there are earworms here to be discovered - they are just slathered in so much gunk and suffer from so much indecision that you want to just scream at the band to tighten up.
It's a classic misjudged late period record from a band not sure where to go next. Back to the garage maybe?
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