Franz Ferdinand are reliably catchy fourteen years after their debut album.Domino, 2018
8.0 / 10
Franz Ferdinand‘s last album came out five years ago. That album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, appeared after a four-year gap. This year’s Always Ascending shares a similar quality with Right Thoughts… in that it shouldn’t work. Not with these times…when the current sound is anything but Justin Timberlake. Okay, maybe it should work. Always Ascending continues Franz Ferdinand’s ability at remaining consistent catchy. Call them the alt-rock / dance-pop constant; creating songs that still would be perfect for iPod commercials. But only if iPods were still in existence. What the band makes clear about Always Ascending is that they made the music. No phony studio shenanigans compensating for the band not being to create what you hear. Frontman Alex Kapranos refers to as “simultaneously futuristic and naturalistic.”
But it’s also a bit retro, harkening back to one-hit wonder ’80s synth bands. Sure, some of those songs remain cheesy but also lovable. For Always Ascending, Franz Ferdinand came out of their comfort zone; experimenting more than ever. Some of this is because they lost a core member Nick McCarthy, who left to spend more time with his family. While McCarthy is having fun doing that, Kapranos and gang are having fun knocking out some of the wildest dance gems. As a new one starts, hooks seemingly fly out at you as if opening a Cenobite’s puzzle box. However, you may not immediately notice the hooks attaching to your brain. But these songs fester and leave you singing them long after.
In true Franz fashion, the band jumps around stylistically from dance bangers (“Always Ascending”, “Lazy Boy”) to sensual pop (“The Academy Award”, “Glimpse of Love”). They even turn out their most rock’n’roll jam yet with “Huck and Jim”. And then there’s the batshit fun of a song like “Feel The Love Go”. You really start to fall in love with it when a saxophone jumps onto the dancefloor. For a band that should be descending into obscurity, Franz Ferdinand is doing anything but.