British rock band Franz Ferdinand are back with their fifth studio album Always Ascending. After making their debut album over a decade ago, propelling a new wave of indie rock tunes, we now see them return after a five-year hiatus with an interesting new style. Parting ways with their founding guitarist Nick McCarthy and replacing him with Julian Corrie, some fans may be left disappointed with the band’s new direction. You can ever so slightly hear that classic Franz sound however, it’s now surrounded synths which really drive this album.
Always Ascending is a combination of post-punk with orchestral-pop and disco, it rejects that classic indie boy culture and takes an experimental approach. Infusing ‘80s pop with indie rock, it’s almost as if David Bowie were to feature on a Brandon Flowers album. Lead singer Alex Kapranos’ monotone vocal styling is accompanied with funk – the lyrical content lacking at times, with its painful repetition and subject matter.
The record did fall short in places, especially in the middle of its run when you got to the tracks like ‘Lois Lane’ which are almost painful to listen to. The album did have its merits but nothing to be overly excited about, other than the fact it was fairly different compared to their previous material. With the band in the later stages in their career, it’s nice to see that they’re experimenting with their sound.
The album is packaged in a sleek and catchy manor but at times felt forced. A certain hit for the indie-cindy sub-culture but may have fallen on deaf ears on the mainstream market Franz Ferdinand used to attract. There are a few too many things going on at once and at times becomes off-putting. As an unorthodox and outdated as it may be, it certainly has some charm to it – by no means reliving what the band were able to achieve fourteen years ago, but it’s still enjoyable.
Words by Charlie Conibear