Review: Jack Foley
AFTER the hype surrounding their debut album, Franz Ferdinand
were always going to be faced with a difficult task in surpassing
You Could Have Had It So Much Better is a mixed bag
- one which shows definite signs of progression and which contains
its fair share of bright moments, but one which also could have
been so much better.
Lead single, Do You Want To, for instance, was a huge
disappointment, trading a little too heavily on the established
sound of the band with its angular guitars and chant-heavy chorus.
The 'lucky, lucky, lucky' chorus has even prompted some to question
whether the Glaswegians were looking to Kylie for inspiration,
especially when taken in context with the bouncing style of the
distinctly mainstream-friendly track.
There are a couple of other moments on the album when Franz Ferdinand
appear content to play to formula and struggle to escape the signature
sound of the first album (as in tracks Well That Was Easy
and This Boy).
But there are other times when the album really comes alive,
especially during the excellent guitar-driven intro of album opener,
The Fallen, which unfolds into a jerk-pop classic, and
the quasi-psychedelic strains of Walk Away, which sounds
something akin to what might happen if The Shadows provided a
guitar backdrop for Pulp.
The emotive chorus of 'why don't you walk away, why don't you
walk away' is typical of the catchy lyrics which are sure to have
fans singing along in their droves during the forthcoming tour.
Strong too are the tracks You're The Reason I'm Leaving,
which features another fine vocal performance from the oh-so distinctive
Alex Kapranos, and the Beatles-esque Eleanor Put Your Boots
On, which marks the album at its most boldly different.
With its urgent stabs of piano and lush melodies, it demonstrates
that there is far more to Franz Ferdinand's arsenal than first
appeared and it's a really welcome change of pace.
Likewise, the deeper and more resonant Fade Together,
a tender love song that features some great acoustic guitar and
more of that enchanting piano. Once again, it could have sprung
from a different era, far removed from the jerk-pop niche that
Franz Ferdinand helped to create.
For a sophomore release, You Could Have It So Much Better
doesn't reach the heights of Coldplay's A Rush of Blood To
The Head, or Gorillaz more recent Demon Days but it does
at least emphasise that Franz Ferdinand are no mere one-hit wonders.
The album combines their established formula with some appetising
glimpses of what the future may hold.
For that reason alone, it deserves to be applauded. It's a collection
of work that will appease the fans while, quite possibly, extending
the Franz Ferdinand appeal still further.
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