Franz Ferdinand are a band haunted by their own success. Following a period as everyone's favourite new band their début just sold too damn well. It left a band continuously searching for relevance. In hind site maybe they should have split up and done something else but instead they made their difficult second album and here we are again - on their difficult third.
Tonight's history is lengthy already. Various producers' names were bandied about (Girls Aloud producer Xenomania or Erol Alkan anyone?) as were concepts (a pop reinvention or African rhythms... Very 2008) but these were ultimately abandoned. Tonight is therefore a fairly straight forward pedestrian record, there are a few synthesizers but otherwise it is very much business as usual.
But there are flashes of excellence when the formula is abandoned. Ulysses' stripped-back-pop complete with a wonky synthesized bassline, for example, or the thrash-indie-grunge breakdown of What She Came For (hold on, was that a guitar solo...?). Best of all is Lucid Dreams - a seven minute descent into electro that is somewhat reminiscent the crass version of LCD Soundsystem's Yeah. Indeed, in their review of Tonight The Guardian argued that an album full of the kind of dubby, electronc experimentation that makes up the closing portion of Tonight would have been much better.
And they'd be right. Which makes the fact that such an album exists even more bizarre. Pick up the limited release of Tonight on CD and it comes with a second disc called Blood, featuring a selection of dub versions of tracks from the album proper.
Blood sees eight of Tonight's 12 tracks getting a dark, dubby treatment and, on the whole, it's a good enough effort to not only meet but surpass the originals... As an album Blood certainly would have made more of a splash.
What She Came For, as a slow rock-trip-hop workout, becomes Feel The Pressure and the jerky acidic bassline sets the pace of the set nicely. Imagine what DFA produced Franz would sound like an you are halfway to the tweaking death dance of Die On The Floor and, best of all, The Vaguest of Feeling sounds like classic Joy Division. Based on Live Alone its minimal sound not only renders the original worthless... It just might be the best thing Franz Ferdinand have ever committed to record.
Franz Ferdinand have also reacted well to remixes, just check out the Morgan Geist mix of Take Me Out or Erol's take on Do You Want To?, but Blood delivers in spades... Easily enough to warrant a seperate release and it is a shame that the full treatment wasn't given to Tonight (except Lucid Dreams which is close enough already) and this released in its stead.
To buy on Amazon.co.uk click here.