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Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better

Review: Jack Foley

AFTER the hype surrounding their debut album, Franz Ferdinand were always going to be faced with a difficult task in surpassing it.

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.

Related stories: Debut album reviewed

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Track listing:
1. The Fallen
2. Do You Want To
3. This Boy
4. I'm Your Villain
5. Evil And A Heathen
6. You're The Reason I'm Leaving
7. Well That Was Easy
8. Eleanor Put Your Boots On
9. What You Meant
10. Walk Away
11. You Could Have It So Much Better
12. Fade Together
13. Outsiders

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