<i>Tonight</i> entertains with unique techniques
Teeth-filled maracas on the album make for bold beats.
Jan. 22, 2009
As if naming a band after an assassinated archduke of Austria whose death sparked the beginning of a world war wasn't morbid enough, Scottish band Franz Ferdinand has taken it one step further, not only changing its sound by adding Russian synthesizers and heavy bass riffs but by using human bones for drum sticks and teeth-filled jars as maracas.
Franz Ferdinand's third album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, is a collage of drum-driven dance grooves, assorted electronica, steady vocals and inventive guitar solos. Although Tonight's sound takes a page from Franz Ferdinand's last album, You Could Have It So Much Better, it pushes the band's formula of anxious fermatas, powerful European vocals and solid beats to the next level, adding more synth and musical quality such as crescendos, instrumentals and foreign influences.
Many songs on Tonight are powerful tracks that veteran Franz Ferdinand fans will approve of. The album's single and first track, "Ulysses," picks up momentum into the first minute with nonsensical lyrics, rocking with a slow rhythm guided by drummer Paul Thompson. Much of the album is lead by drumbeats, which are impressive and distinctive. Other notable tracks include "No You Girls," with its dark lyrics and catchy hook, and "Kiss Me," the only slow song on the album that dictates the story of a one-night stand. "Bite Hard" is also an interesting track, starting out slow but coming in with the typical, but enjoyable, Franz Ferdinand sound that includes shouting vocals and firm drums.
Some songs, however, are kitschy, disco-esque and too Euro-influenced. Songs like "What She Came For" use a '70s bass that might cause listeners to sprout afros or wear bell bottoms. "Twilight Omens" is also a song that has a retro feel, but this time giving a throwback to the '80s with too much keyboard and unneeded bell tones. After a while, the album also becomes monotonous and tracks run together as a result of Alex Kapranos' distinctive voice that carries a Scottish accent.
Those who have tired of bands such as The Killers or The Fratellis will not like Tonight. Although the album has some elements that set it apart from other big alternative names, the general feel of the album, if listened to in its entirety, has been overplayed for some time now.
The drums, macabre elements and synth are really what make Tonight an overall enjoyable album. It contains danceable elements that will appeal to alternative audiences but don't cause it to be too poppy. Drummer Thompson should be most commended for really setting the tone for the album, and also for using unconventional -- although creepy -- techniques that give Tonight much of its flavor. Although Franz Ferdinand has added a bit of flair to their sound, they have not strayed from the formula that made them so popular in the first place.