There are certain (white, guitar) bands that seem to define certain ages and as these ages become more, erm, aged these bands are more likely to be remembered if they built up a significant back catalogue. Sixties? Beatles and Stones. Seventies? Led Zep. Eighties? Duran Duran and UB40. Except for the inexplicably popular and complete artistic vacuum that is the latter bands, all mixed levels of commercial and critical success.
…I wonder if my clumsy theory encompassing fifty years or recorded music will be proved right?
The nineties will probably be known (in this country) through Oasis and Blur but their output is mixed to say the least, especially with Oasis. These last two decades have seen a curious trend in bands having the trajectory of a cheap firework — an initial burst of excitement followed quickly by fading whilst everyone looks to the next one. And so we come to clever-pop merchants, Franz Ferdinand, and their second album. I wonder if my clumsy theory encompassing fifty years or recorded music will be proved right? Will no one give two figs (like Starsailor) or will they move into superstardom (White Stripes)?
Well, we cannot know for sure but quality wise You Could Have It So Much Better is ace. With their eponymous debut, Franz Ferdinand proclaimed their desire was to ‘make girls dance’ (rule number one for DJ’s, incidentally). This effort takes that idea and tries and succeeds in develop the template. There is nothing here that quite scales the majestic heights of T**e M* O*t or maybe even Michael from their debut. But then in some ways it seems more of a party record, touching on 80’s disco, 70’s glam rock and Beatles pop. But with added slow ones! Without wanting to dwell on one particular influence, Franz Ferdinand are surely one of the few bands since Blondie with albums packed so full of songs with controls set to the heart of the dancefloor. On that note, “I’m Your Villian” is their “Atomic”, but with a better chorus.
…the fuzzy thrill of “Evil” and “a Heathen” would sound perfect in a small, sweaty venue populated by mods and rockers fighting in the mosh pit
I mentioned earlier the developing template; whilst their first record stuck to one theme they knew worked (i.e high tempo guitar pop) “You Could Have It…” adds more. “This Boy” takes the chorus from “Matinee” but wraps it around a B-52’s riff. “Walk Away” is the kind of twisted love song that Lennon used to sneak onto early Beatles LPs. The fuzzy thrill of “Evil” and “a Heathen” would sound perfect in a small, sweaty venue populated by mods and rockers fighting in the mosh pit; although it’ll probably only ever grace stadia.
The couple of slower songs included (“Eleanor Put Your Boots On” and “Fade Together”) touch on Belle and Sebasian territory, surprisingly, and given time seem to fit better with each listen. The album finishes as it starts with the drunk punk funk of Outsiders. They could release ten of these songs as singles.
As Alex Kapranos sings in “What You Meant” — “I feel alive, yeah, just the same, same vigour and the same intent”. They’re still going for the girls/dance route, and they still sound fantastic. The backlash will not begin here.