Sunday, March 11, 2018

Always Ascending By Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand are, in my opinion, one of the most interesting bands in the world today.
They released 3 super acclaimed albums, then, I think they lost a bit of media attention with "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action" and then did the supergroup FFS with The Sparks, which kinda divided the fans and the critics (and Alex Kapranos also formed BNQT).
With Always Ascending we can see the band, again (and again and again) trying to develop their sound and trying to make something fresh and new, and that's something we should really praise. It would be easy for them to do a new "Take Me Out" with a frontal indie-rock sound, but the band
really wants to get further and achieve new sonorities.
Always Ascending is, basically a mature indie/rock/electronic record.
If I were in a band, I would select the best song of the album (excluding long melancholic emotional or experimental songs) as the first single. I do think that big part of the artists do it, and Franz Ferdinand selected the title-song of the album as their opening and as first single and I understand why. It is the best song of the album. An electronic, dreamy song about viewing life as a Shepard Tone, always directly facing our path, and moving forward, and it is what the band is always doing, renovating their sound with amazing songs, without forgetting their own style. Always Ascending is a very complex song with lot of different parts but complex as the album is, so it's its right representation.
The second song, Lazy Boy is a danceable song, with a catchy bass riff, and a direct guitar chorus. Again, Kapranos likes to write about simple things in life, without getting too much poetic about the subjects. The songs is not about how love will change your life, or how war screws up the world, it's only about a lazy boy that doesn't like to get out of the bed, and loves his girlfriend. Simple, direct and smart. Franz Ferdinand's lyrics has always been much more practical than most of the bands. Something like a modern Jarvis Cocker poem, it describes the world has it is, without a story-line.
Then we have Paper Cages, a song that, at the beginning I didn't like that much, but now I think it is one of the best from the album. Catchy and melodic. It's something that Metronomy could have written during their most inspiring moments (far superior, but you get the point).
Finally is what I describe like a normal song of the album. Not the best, not the worst, just a nice song that fills good in the album. A song, probably about social integration.
The Academy Award is my least favourite song. It looks like an American ballad, like a modern western/Scottish song.
Track number 6 is Lois Lane. The song, with the name of the partner of Superman, sonorously, really reminds me of the 80's. I think it has a lot of inspiring from the instrumental song of Depeche Mode "Nothing To Fear" from their 1982 album "A Broken Frame". The riff of the chorus, and the middle keyboard solo really seems taken from there. Nothing against, I love Depeche Mode, and actually in a lot of moments from this album you can feel their influence.
Huck And Jim is a strange song. The intro of the song is great but then you get into dark areas. The pre-chorus is like a rap/reggae sound that, really doesn't fit well with Franz Ferdinand. I said that The Academy Awards was the lowest moment of the album, but I'm reconsidering now that this song might be worse. It's not bad, it's only not as good as the other songs.
Gimpse Of Love is another 80's renovated song. Catchy, funny, with a nice keyboard line, nice backing choruses. I very decent song.
The second single from the album was Feel The Love Go. Again, with Always Ascending it is the most electronic/industrial song. Hard, aggressive and addicted. The song is very intense and has (as Always Ascending) nice "lalala" creepy backing vocals, that really helps you to memorise the song. A hit song, without any doubt.   
The last song is, as typical, a beautiful ballad. Slow, Don't Kill Me Slow is a electronic ballad, very sweet and very (emotionally) moving. You could say it's a sad song that you can happily dance to it. Also, the outro is very dreamy and very travelling. After 9 aggressive electronic indie rock songs, this is the perfect song for you to make peace with the album. One of my favourite songs. Last week I was listen to it every single morning on the way to work.

Resuming, I cannot place Always Ascending in a rank in Franz Ferdinad's career. The album is, undoubtedly, a step forward from their work, but it goes along their career, it's nothing revolutionary. The band's line up changed from their last work to this one, but, honestly, you cannot feel that on their sound, which says that the new members adaptation was very easy and natural, and the band could keep their identity exactly as it was.
I love this band, and I think that, not only they are one of the best performs of today's music but also they are one of the most creative bands around. They should be really on the top, which they are not, and it's a pity. If you have the opportunity you should see them live. 

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