You Could Have It So Much Better
By: Eric Greenwood
I've been listening to the new Franz Ferdinand trying to figure out why I don't like it as much as the band's stylish debut. It has the same jaunty, angular post-punk guitar jabs, the same bouncy, half-disco beats, and even breathier, more cocksure vocals by Alex Kapranos, but something just isn't right.
The band sounds absolutely ecstatic and even more confident on You Could Have It So Much Better. Its whole schtick consists of a playfully sinister sexual energy reeled off in pseudo-intellectual and explicitly British wordplay. The cheekiness borders on mockery this time, however, as Kapranos' ego swells beyond measure.
It's only been a year and a half since all the hoopla started, and Franz Ferdinand has wasted no time cashing in on the hype. The formula has barely changed, although there is a noticeable decline in songwriting quality. Excepting the exuberantly triumphant opener, "The Fallen", few songs reach that perfect balance of cleverness and cartoonish panache that made its debut so infectious.
The shadowy androgyny dips to the homoerotic side of the scale on the bouncy, Blondie-esque "Do You Want To." The song sounds like some sort of Bacchanalian love-fest for boys with ill-fitting pants and a penchant for harsh, German design, as the band races through its zippy riffs and punk-y time changes. Kapranos is almost too suave for his own good, dropping one-liners with all the subtlety of a divorcee in a room full of doctors.
The songs rush by so quickly it's almost as if the band is hoping you won't notice they're not as consistently catchy or memorable as the bulk of its debut. When things do slow down, as on "Eleanor Put Your Boots On", Franz Ferdinand taps into a side of its sound that could have been so much better.