Franz Ferdinand

You Could Have It So Much Better

[5] Because my copy of Franz Ferdinand’s latest album, You Could Have It So Much Better, is secured with so much copy protection, the car stereo is the only thing I have to play it on. And I know there’s something wrong with my car’s electrical system, because the faster I drive, the louder the disc gets. And when I slam on the brakes to avoid getting a ticket and three points on my license, the sound of the disc drops considerably.

It’s worth bringing this up, because compared to the band’s eponymous debut, Better is all about swagger, kinetic energy and a total disregard for typical artistic conceits such as “maturing” and “progressing.” When you consider all the options Glasgow’s finest could have taken up-morose radio-friendly balladry, hit-single rewriting (well, “I’m Your Villain” does sound a smidgen like “Take Me Out”), dropped-D tuning to prove to us Yankees they can “rock”-it’s clear Franz Ferdinand have more integrity than much of the no-name stuff being celebrated on message boards and indie-rock circle jerks.

On first listen, it’s apparent guitars are job one. Nick McCarthy and Alex Kapranos have them chugging along (“You’re The Reason I’m Leaving”) or generating texture (“Outsiders”), while bassist Bob Hardy and drummer Paul Thomson push things along a few kilometers faster than on their debut. Lyrically, Kapranos is perfectly confident, stickin’ it to hipsters (the single “Do You Want To”) and enunciating wildly in ways hip-hop millionaires can’t (“The Fallen”). And, in contrast of the acceleration and mania, the melancholy ballads (“Eleanor, Put Your Boots On” and “Fade Together”) are the stuff romantic suicide pacts are made from. [Neither AP, Franz Ferdinand or any of this record’s agents condone that statement. Please fall in love with music, not death. -Rockin’-it-legal Ed.]

For all the hype about the ’Nand-jobs being more literate and tempered on round two, You Could Have It So Much Better is a full-on party record. Turn it up, and you can practically see drunk girls dancing and making out in the corner; dudes playing air guitar; your little sibling jumping up and down on the couch, embarrassing you in front of your buddies; and that smooth operator trying to hit on your honey in the kitchen. Sure, Team Ferdinand aren’t gonna save the world, but neither will Death Cab For Cutie or the White Stripes. In an era where there are so many white-belted sheep bragging about the number of times they’ve seen Interpol or friendless internet posters hating on My Chemical Romance, it’s great to hear a band who are putting their own fun before fans, fronting and fiscal certainty. And if you sophomore-slump cynics can’t hear that, well, you deserve the Click Five. (EPIC/DOMINO) Jason Pettigrew

ROCKS LIKE: XTC’s Drums And Wires • Maximo Park's A Certain Trigger • Hot Hot Heat’s Make Up The Breakdown

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