Franz Ferdinand - Always Ascending Album Review
Franz Ferdinand is well known for their hybrid indie rock/dance-punk sound. Always Ascending is no exception to this, crafted in the established sound of the band. However, the band does use an increased amount of piano this time around, which helps to create a melancholic ambiance that shifts between happiness and sadness, depending on the song.Their fifth studio album marks the first release after the departure of founding member and guitarist Nick McCarthy. The departure is hardly noticeable, as lead singer Alex Kapranos has mentioned multiple times that Franz Ferdinand was returning to their roots, self-described as “making songs for girls to dance to.” However, they lose some of the magic that made them so popular in this endeavor, and McCarthy’s departure stands out with the lack of signature guitar riffs. They do make songs for girls to dance to but miss the substance that made earlier releases shine.
There are a couple major flaws that keep the album from fully hitting its potential. The album feels all over the place, with no major theme that ties songs together. One track is a gospel-like ballad, while the next is a is an upbeat dance track. This lack of cohesion becomes more evident further into the album.
A lack of consistency is also a major issue. Franz Ferdinand is at its best when the songs are high energy and have hints of being love songs, like “Take Me Out,” “Dark of the Matinee,” and “Love Illumination” to name a few examples. There are hints of that on Always Ascending, but the second half of the album drags, with songs that are catchy but lack substance or are even boring. They do not have the energy needed to even be compared to the other tracks on the album. There is no song that stands out as “Franz Ferdinand reinvents themselves.” Even if they had managed to recapture their sound, there is nothing groundbreaking nor something different to make Always Ascending a worthy addition to the band’s discography.
There are some fine songs on this album such as “Always Ascending,” “Paper Cages,” “Slow Don’t Kill Me Slow,” and “Lazy Boy.” These are either unique enough to stand on their own or really capture the sound that makes Franz Ferdinand great with substance.
Always Ascending may have the sound, but fails to capture the charm of Franz Ferdinand and You Could Have Had So Much Better. It lacks that charismatic lovelorn tone of past releases which usually leads to the best songs from the band.
Hopefully, Franz Ferdinand having now given their new members a chance to be familiar with the sound can begin to adapt their sound into something new. Kapranos has found himself trying to find the group’s old energy again, rather than finding ways to evolve it. Without a concrete vision, the band may sink into obscurity.
Owen Paiva is a freshman majoring in Film/Video. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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