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Franz Ferdinand

Tonight: Franz Ferdinand


Nov 01, 2008 Franz Ferdinand Bookmark and Share

They’ve always flirted with dance music, with the best moments of their first two releases often driven by barbed guitars and angular hooks that were often underscored by a remarkably propulsive rhythm section that locked down airtight grooves. Still, the idea of Franz Ferdinand making any honest dance album seemed unlikely, and the correct classification of Tonight is likely to be debated by those who see it as going too far into disco beats and vintage synthesizer and those who see it as not going far enough to push the band out of the middle ground they’ve always inhabited between the two traditions. Both have valid points, too, as the skittering hi-hats and synthesizer whooshes of “Live Alone” recall the golden days of Studio 54, while “Bite Hard” transitions from Kinks-like piano ballad to sneering glam rocker in the span of seconds, resulting in a track that belongs as much to the rock tradition as anything in Franz Ferdinand’s catalog.

Still, this is an album dominated by the rhythm section, as drummer Paul Thomson and bassist Bob Hardy dominate the mixes, the former producing a powerhouse display of limber and loose-limbed grooves and the latter playing his four strings like a lead instrument. But while the calculus of the album adds up to a far more rhythmically diverse and dance floor ready album, there are none of the trappings of modern dance music, as the band took great pains to make an album that sounds like—with few exceptions—a band playing together in a room. The jagged two-guitar attack and cocksure attitude remain, with flailing leads and sing-along choruses adding a sinister edge to songs that are largely steeped in devil-may-care hedonism and slowly emerging regret. Taken as a whole, it’s the rare album that flirts with enough styles that it renders notions of classification irrelevant, and ultimately more of a Franz Ferdinand album than a dance album. (

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