Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have It So Much Better (2005): Review

Produced by Franz Ferdinand/Rich Costey
Label – Domino

One of the most anticipated follow up albums of the noughties is every bit the celebration we all hoped for in that Franz Ferdinand knew exactly how to harness the post punk vitality of their debut and managed to adopt just the right amount of mature invention to identify “You Could Have It So Much Better” as an outstanding progression. Whilst many bands release sophomore albums that are an inferior trawl through stockpiled live remnants that were never strong enough for the debut, Alex Kapranos and co. seem to have enough creative nous to integrate some new, more restrained compositions with the faster paced art rock of “Franz Ferdinand”.

There’s a deliberate move away from the sparse, clipped sound in favour of an instrumental backing that’s fuller, more colourful and surprisingly warm. This couldn’t be more evident than on the two love struck ballads. “Eleanor Put Your Boots On” carries with it a gentle piano melody and Kapranos sings with rare intimacy to a very personal story aimed towards his long term partner Eleanor Friedberger. Although more wistful in its lyrical content “Fade Together” drifts along dreamily as the singer carefully suggests “Once you have loved someone this much you doubt it could fade.”

Before one is inclined to think that Franz Ferdinand have become romantic softies and have lost their edge, bear in mind that these more considered songs of passion are very carefully interspersed between the expected jerky foot stomping songs we have become accustomed to. Indeed, the lightning triple salvo that opens the album could easily make one believe that this is “FF part 2”. The thudding rhythm and jagged guitar of opener “The Fallen” is as exciting as anything previously released and seamlessly introduces devotees with a delirious and yet cool funk panache. The sexual innuendo of “Do You Want To” is hilariously hidden within the catchiest melody the band have yet written, and is in the same musical and rhythmic parameters as “Take me Out” and justifiably as strong. “This Boy” is typically bold and frantic whilst “Walk Away” is the first point for reflection as the party atmosphere is broken up by a devastatingly poignant break up song.

“You Could Have It So Much Better” is a triumph, a masterful blend of rowdiness and restraint.

9/10

Track Listing
1 – The Fallen 10
2 – Do You Want To 10
3 – This Boy 8
4 – Walk Away 9
5 – Evil And A Heathen 7
6 – You’re The Reason I’m Leaving – 8
7 – Eleanor Put Your Boots On – 10
8 – Well That Was Easy – 8
9 – What You Meant – 8
10 – I’m Your Villain – 8
11 – You Could Have It So Much Better – 7
12 – Fade Together – 9
13 – Outsiders – 9

Do You Want To

The Fallen

Walk Away

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3 responses to “Franz Ferdinand – You Could Have It So Much Better (2005): Review

  1. I recall with misty-eyed sentiment the burgeoning British indie scene of the mid-noughties. The reality I’m sure we’d all accept is that the majority of it was absolute pap, as the Arctic Monkeys rightfully set the bar very high, but Franz Ferdinand did stand out for me as probably the only band that wrote, sang and played with a bit of conviction. They really did le ad the field in that respect, but looking back maybe they were overshadowed by more radio(1)-friendly rivals like the Kaiser Chiefs. “Walk Away” is as good as any Arctic Monkeys track.

    P.S. been listening to a lot of John Lee Hooker recently. If you get chance, could you review 1966’s “It Serves You Right To Suffer”? Be interesting to hear another opinion on it. I think it’s fantastic!

  2. I agree, I think looking back Franz Ferdinand were the best of those indie bands from the era. So many promised much and failed to deliver. It’s a shame the indie scene fizzled out so abruptly, but frankly, a lot of the bands simply weren’t good enough. I’ll hunt out that John Lee Hooker album and see if I can review it. I watched the “Blues Brothers” (again) a couple of days ago and it’s ironic that you’ve mentioned him in this comment.

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