Franz Ferdinand, 'Tonight: Franz Ferdinand'
Franz Ferdinand Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
ESSENTIAL "Send Him Away"
Part of the fun of Franz Ferdinand's music is vocalist Alex Kapranos's wildly divergent moods. One minute he's on a giddy high, feet barely touching the ground as he expounds on the glories of love with a combination of nonsensical babbling and straightforward declarations. The next he's sobbing morosely as he examines the aftermath of romantic devastation. Who hasn't been in both those places?
But no matter whether the frontman's heart is swelling or cracking, the Scottish quartet reliably churns out spiky riffs, pumping beats, and bubbling disco bass lines that keep the hips moving. The band's third album, "Tonight: Franz Ferdinand," continues the tradition - with a few small twists. Some tunes brim with Kapranos's still-charming sense of awe in the face of the opposite sex. The twitchy, fuzz-guitar ode to going weak at the knees, "No You Girls," laments the universal consternation over feminine wiles. "You could turn my dirty world the bright way round," Kapranos croons to a potential match with a yearning whine that evokes Andy Partridge of XTC in "Twilight Anthems."
By the very next song, "Bite Hard," he is bemoaning his unrequited love over a delicate piano line that blossoms into a bundle of angry, nervy guitars. The slinky "Send Him Away" conjures up twisted sheets, bad behavior, and unstoppable forces with a classic, Stones-y sex appeal. The band expands its borders a bit with the billowy space-rock contours of "Dream Again" and the staticky three-minute synth outro on "Lucid Dreams," an extended dance-floor gift that would make Depeche Mode's Martin Gore swoon. Franz Ferdinand hews more closely to its New Wave and synth pop forebears than to anything approaching R&B, and the group never quite generates the palpable body heat of previous dance rockers like INXS. But for fans of the genre, this bundle of itchy grooves and cris de coeur ensure "Tonight" is one to remember. (Out tomorrow) Listen to "Tonight" at www.myspace.com/franzferdinand.