Indie rock band Franz Ferdinand take us up up and away on a slightly bumpy ride with their new album, ‘Always Ascending.’
Released Feb. 9. ‘Always Ascending’ is the fifth studio album for the Scottish band who danced their way into the hearts of indie fans with their 2004 hit “Take Me Out.”
Contrary to its name, ‘Always Ascending’ doesn’t take Franz Ferdinand to new heights, but is on par with the slinky indie rock they’ve cultivated, and like their last few albums, it’s a mixed bag.
The title track, “Always Ascending,” leads the album in the right direction, starting off slow, but quickly building into an eruption of effortless movement. Funky bass lines ebb and flow throughout, and lead singer Alex Kapranos ushers you into the lyrics with a devilish charisma.
‘Lazy Boy’ follows with an immediate jumping bass line paired with the slightly repetitive chorus, “I’m a lazy boy … I’m a lazy boy” Guitars quickly make their way into the picture, trading spotlights with the bass to create an infectious melody.
The third track, “Paper Cages” starts off on target but eventually becomes too stripped down. While the instrumentals drag on, the chorus saves the song with an interesting layer of vocals that makes the song flicker past us like frames in a roll of film
While most of the songs are good (a few are even great), several walk, or rather strut, the line that separates slow from boring.
Songs such as “The Academy Award” and “Hutch and Jim” are overly indulgent and border on being lackadaisical — for a band that is used to moving crowds and creating intricate, danceable songs, the aforementioned seem out of place even when compared to slower tunes from their past.
That’s not to take away from the album on a whole, and the songs that do strike a chord are often paired with snazzy lyrics.
“Journalism can change the world, and if you change the world then you can be happy,” Kapranos sings in “Lois Lane.”
Other songs including “Glimpse of Love” and “Feel the Love Go” are right on track with Franz Ferdinand’s pathos, oozing with synth and drenched in decadence. The latter is connected by fantastic transitions and a rather savvy sax solo.
Unfortunately, the album ends on a sour note. “Slow, Don’t Kill Me Slow” closes ‘Always Ascending’ with a lackluster fizzle.
‘Always Ascending’ is not the best album, but it’s altogether enjoyable, and while a few songs miss their mark, the songs that do hit are very strong and effortlessly transition into movement.
‘Always Ascending’ is available for purchase and streaming, and Franz Ferdinand will perform at the Wiltern in Los Angeles on May 15. For more info, visit their website.