The Listener

Franz Ferdinand take disco and make it rather glorious: Always Ascending reviewed

24 February 2018

9:00 AM

24 February 2018

9:00 AM

Grade: A

Yay, people with a modicum of wit. They come along so very rarely these days. A decade on and that punky, guitar-driven power-pop funk has long since been expunged. Singer Alex Kapranos expressed a wish for Franz Ferdinand to reinvent themselves — and has turned to the same source inspiration as did their recent collaborators Sparks when they, too, needed a swift reboot at the end of the 1970s: Giorgio Moroder. But Kapranos and co. have laced those metronomic German beats with camp glamour and swirling, unpredictable melodies — and, of course, the frequent touch of Bowie.


This is a disco-pop album. But even at its dumbest — on ‘Finally’ and ‘Huck and Jim’ — there is always something to hold the attention, an unexpected hook or an outré chord change. I’m not sure if this makes them, as Kapranos apparently wishes, ‘subversive’, but it does make them a very good pop group. I listened to ‘Lois Lane’ five times over and still haven’t got bored and the songs that bookend the album — the title track and the beautiful ‘Slow Don’t Kill Me Slow’ — take disco and make it rather glorious and anthemic.

It all reminds me a little of the second album from Garbage, which is a tad unfair, because FF are not quite so determinedly cold-blooded. But the insistence that every song should have three hooks with which to snare you is present here, and it works. They seem a little too pleased with themselves, at times. But not half as smug as Vampire Weekend — and with FF you get more than one decent song per album. I counted eight on this one.

 

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