Supported by a loose “concept” (the emotional arc of a night out partying and the following cob-webby morning) and some of the year’s best synthesizers, Franz Ferdinand’s third album, Tonight, melds hints of dub wizardry, dance floor oomph and angular post-punk guitars into one of the most sturdy dance-rock discs ever pressed.
Lead single and album opener “Ulysses” nicely establishes Tonight’s theme/concept, with the early night ritual of pre-partying finding an able metaphor in the romanticized never-ending adventure of the great Ulysses and his send-off. Alex Kapranos’ slinky whispered verses quickly give way to the yelping chorus and eventual bridge of “You’re never going home like Ulysses,” where our party-hard narrator imagines the night’s exploits may lead to his own never-ending adventures.
“Send Him Away” wobbles into a slippery skank, until buzzing keyboards and off-kilter handclaps steady the beat into a danceable shuffle. “Twilight Omens” sinks into a swirling mass of dance floor synths until the electric guitars break off and stutter like strobe light sendoff. “Bite Hard” and “No You Girls” are blitzes of 70’s infused rock swagger, full of splash cymbals and sloppy sing-along choruses. “Katherine Kiss Me” is a frail acoustic closer, meant to signify (maybe) regrets and upset stomachs and waking up past noon on the dusty day after, but as the denouement of a solid arc of danceable rock, the ballad feels more like a fizzle than a final bang.
While the disc plays best as a cohesive whole, there are some high water marks. “Lucid Dreams” is a winding, barely coherent epic that feels like a drunk drive up Mulholland Drive with an ADD radio host skipping schizophrenically from chorus to chorus of rare records, never staying long enough for any single melody to become tired. This fabulous excursion into aural instability feels like its busting apart at the seams by the four minute mark as trippy rave synths, echoing guitar squiggles and shadowy electronic drums slowly jumble and fade over the four additional minutes of anarchic bliss. “Live Alone” is a perfect hybrid of disco percussion, blipping punk keyboards and Kapranos’ endearing throw-away vocals detailing the wrong-time, wrong-place love affair of two wanton souls.
Favorite Track: “Live Alone”
Reviewer Bio - Christopher j Ewing is a writer and filmmaker living in Los Angeles with a girl and a designer dog. He is in a band by himself, has a myspace account at www.myspace.com/wastedpotentialproduction and a production company at (www.wastedpotentialproductions.com) for freelance film, video and journalism work.