February 19, 2009

Test Spin: Franz Ferdinand

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Riding the dance-rock wave of the early 2000s, Franz Ferdinand rose to fame with their ubiquitous first single, “Take Me Out,” a punchy song built around — who can forget it — that damn guitar hook (duh, duh, duh da-duh da-duh…).
But while the dance-rock genre has since taken a hit, its formula grown hackneyed from too many mediocre bands exploiting it, Franz Ferdinand have managed to sustain their success, releasing in 2005 a well-received follow-up to their heralded self-titled debut.
On Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, the band’s third full-length album, the formula stays much the same: propulsive rhythms, snarky lyrics and, yes, infectious guitar hooks abound. “What She Came For” begins with a plodding bass riff, a funky electric-organ line and a sloppy seduction (“I got a question for you / where do you see yourself in five minutes’ time?”), before erupting into a coda of ferocious rock-and-roll. “No You Girls” is the album’s catchiest song, even if its lyrical content is disappointingly clichéd (boy meets girl, girl spurns boy, boy feels misunderstood). Tonight’s most daring moment is “Lucid Dreams,” a song that starts promisingly before devolving into electronic schlock.
But, to be fair, Franz Ferdinand is not Animal Collective — sonic experimentation clearly is not their thing. Should we fault them, then, for playing so neatly within the musical lines of their genre? It depends, I guess, on how many guitar hooks and specious come-ons we can stomach.