Franz Ferdinad: Tonight

“Tonight: Franz Ferdinand” is a concept album, but in the loosest possible definition of the term. It has no clear narrative and you’d be completely excused for failing to pick up on the tale that enfolds throughout the 12 tracks on the standard album release.

The concept is based around the premise of a debauched night out and the subsequent events. “Ulysses” is the first single and the album opener that reintroduces us to a distinctive Franz Ferdinand vibe and anticipates the evening ahead. The habitual Franz Ferdinand sound is slightly distorted with perhaps a little more dance and a little less rock. Keyboards and synthesisers are cranked up a notch and guitars slightly reduced. “Ulysses” builds up to distinctive pounding drum cue that leads into a fast-paced bouncy chorus with refrains of “I found a new way” and familiar “la-la-la-la’s” before finally concluding with a bizarre sound evocative of the death of an early 80’s video game character.

The production is a little different from previous Franz Ferdinand albums, providing an open and crisp sound. The band interviews I have read reveal that the intention was for a heavy dub Jamaican feel, which I picked up on “Send Him Away” but I probably wouldn’t have mentioned otherwise. “Turn It On” and “No You Girls” are the closest things to the first two albums and none the worse for it. “What She Came For” has a rolling bass loop that could have come from Moby’s “Play” before concluding with a grinding, fuzzy and chaotic guitar climax.

“Lucid Dreams” is where things start to get a little weird and halfway through the almost 8 minute long track, things descend into disjointed heavy dance thingy with synthesisers and beats before we slowly pass out and come around to the trippy and psychedelic “Dream Again”. “Katherine Kiss me” is a gentle acoustic postscript of a sobering morning after. I’m assuming Katherine must be the lady our protagonist first hooked up with at the start of the night during track 3’s “No You Girls”.

Maybe I’ve been sold a dummy, with this “night out” concept. Maybe these are just 12 new random songs from a bunch of Scottish rockers, although I think I prefer the more pretentious interpretation. The heavy dub ambition is more fully realised on the second disc, if you’re prepared to splash out on the more expensive special edition version. After living with the album for a week I’m certainly enjoying it, but all this thought and planning on the third album are still not much competition for their sparkling debut.

[click album for video]