Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (Domino)
If the white-belted warriors of the early-’00s rawk invasion have learned anything over the past eight years, it’s that reinventing yourself can be a royal bitch. The Hives attempted to break out of the garage ghetto with 2007’s Black and White Album, going so far as to enlist the Neptunes. The result, improbably, sounded exactly like the Hives. Even after Jack White developed a full-blown Jimmy Page obsession, no one was confusing the White Stripes with anyone but the White Stripes. At least the Vines and Jet had the good sense to go the too-hard-why-try route.
The advance billing on Tonight: Franz Ferdinand was that Franz Ferdinand was pulling a hard left, dabbling in Afrobeat while teaming up with Turkish electro DJ Erol Alkan. That didn’t happen. But if the third album from Glasgow’s favourite pop-art rockers will disappoint those who were hoping for a Sgt. Pepper–style mindfuck, at least it doesn’t sound like 12 limp retreads of “Take Me Out”.
The kickoff track, “Ulysses”, finds Franz Ferdinand working a golden-age-of-electroclash vibe, while the stuttering pop of “Send Him Away” marks a late arrival to the glitch-techno kitchen party. On the musicianship front, the celestial six-string fireworks on “Twilight Omens” should land Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy in a future edition of Guitar Hero, and the minimalist disco of “Live Alone” has bassist Bob Hardy and drummer Paul Thomson sounding powerfully Chic.
It all adds up to something different enough from Franz Ferdinand to suggest moderate growth, which is more than you can say for 2005’s You Could Have It So Much Better. Not to mention everything ever released by the White Stripes, the Hives, and the rest of the original white-belt brigade.