Thursday, December 15, 2005

Albums Of The Year: Number 17

The biggest disappointment with You Could Have It So Much Better, apart from how they chose a title which was bound to be used against them in every underwhelming review, is that Franz Ferdinand made an album before it. The debut threw open the doors through which all manner of vagrants and chancers have charged in the nearly two years since, and what's more deserved to, finally finding a home in the nation's hearts for the skewed but oven ready sound of all those bands like Josef K and The Fire Engines who you'd read about occasionally but never actually properly investigate. Franz's biggest achievement was that they brought their influences to the collective table, refused to budge that far outside them and challenged an audience outside the small sphere of specialist radio listeners to take them in. In light of that, many couldn't help but be disappointed by an album that did something as callous as use much the same source material as a starting point.

The sound of that album could best be described as coming from an outfit that required a lot of practice room time to sound so loose, and here the same idea has been applied to the next level of influences on - glam, mid-80s indie, even Led Zep in elements. Where they previously sounded paper-thin in a workable way, now they turn the amps up to 11 and charge headlong at the chunky riffs. When they move outside their main reference points they're not so surefooted, although Walk Away does a good spot-welding job using a Byrds template. In summary, this is Franz sounding more brazen about rocking out while never quite escaping, or indeed willing to fully escape, from their Postcard Records heritage. Ultimately, just about every track on here would make a cracking single, it's just that they had to put them together to make an album out of it.

LISTEN IN: The Fallen
EXTRA FEATURE: More Franz treats than are contained in heaven and earth, or thereabouts, on The Franz Ferdinand Fan Community

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