Often when bands release a massively successful debut album, the critics and fans alike tend to judge the bands next release much more harshly. Some bands can never deal with the pressure of the media hype and popularity and fall into the category of “has-beens” and “one-hit wonders.”
This is not the case with Franz Ferdinand. The band’s sophomore release, You Could Have It So Much Better, finds the band losing their fashionable neck wear a bit and not taking themselves so seriously. The new Franz is a band not afraid to change their loud style a bit by incorporating some new instruments as well as some bolder lyrics.
The band broke into the mainstream last year with their hit singles “Take Me Out” and “This Fire” off their self titled debut. But along with the possible “one-hit wonder” tag, another question lingered after their success; what kind of band would Franz Ferdinand become? Would they simply rewrite their debut and not mess with what brought them success?
The band prior to the recording of the new album expressed a desire to depart with the sparse sounding production of their previous album. The band enlisted Rich Cosley, who has recently produced artists such as Prog-rockers The Mars Volta. Cosley’s influence can be seen throughout the new album.
Throughout the album, the band incorporates a wide range of instruments including synthesizers, pianos, and vocal effects. When many expected them to make the self-titled record all over again, the band boldly spit on the face of their old image.
The lead single off the album, “Do You Want To,” is very reminiscence of 90’s alt-rock favorites Blur’s “Girls and Boys.” The song might be the catchiest song the band has ever written. The ridiculous lyrics, based on conversations lead singer Alex Kapranos overheard at an end-of-tour party, perfectly expresses the care-free attitude of the band and shows a more dangerous side of the band which may make some radio programmers a little nervous.
“I’m Your Villain” sees the band incorporating some “Ziggy Stardust era” David Bowie-esque funk. The final track, “Outsiders” sounds eerily familiar to a disco era Blondie song.
The band starts to tone down later on in the album with several tracks showing their sensitive side. The most interesting track on the album is the moody, Beatles-influenced song “Eleanor Put Your Boots On.”
The title track also seems to be a calling out to all the new bands that have come out in the past year, clearly packaging themselves in the successful mold of the band. The title of the album could be been seen as a statement to all the fans of all those bands.
The lyrics have also improved dramatically on the new album. The band starts to break away from some of the squeaky clean lyrics that made up their previous work. Lyrics about such hefty topics such as drug abuse are rampant throughout the album.
The band also started to express a much more sarcastic and self-loathing side to themselves.
You Could Have It So Much Better is a much more interesting album as compared to their debut because the variation from track to track is much more eclectic. The peculiar thing about their debut was that every track sounded like it could have been a single; each song was fit into the fast, three-minute frame. Despite the change, there is absolutely no filler on the new album. Fans of the old album may find the new Franz Ferdinand slightly frustrating.
You Could Have It So Much Better is much more loose compared to its predecessor. If anything, the album proves that the band is here to stay.
Franz Ferdinand has pushed all the naysayers to the side and shown the true power that they possesses. A good album should not only take the listeners on a musical journey, but it should also leave them yearning for more.
Franz Ferdinand’s You Could Have It So Much Better does that fairly successfully.