In 2004, a then-Scottish quartet named Franz Ferdinand broke into the mainstream with their signature number, “Take Me Out.” It was blasted through airwaves, sports events, and commercials – deeming the band as a “one-hit wonder.” However, they were only seen as that to people who are too lazy and simpleminded to listen to one of their full-length albums. The group upstaged U2 when opening for them back in 2005, where rebel frontman, Alex Kapranos walked onto Bono’s ego-ramp – a catwalk extending into the audience – during their own performance. Also, in Scotland, they’re practically adored like the Beatles. And not one of their albums are bad or even mediocre – they’re all tremendous. After five studio albums, Franz proved how consistent and natural they are. In honor of Franz’s latest release on Feb. 9, Always Ascending, we ranked all five studio albums from worst to greatest.
5.) Always Ascending (2018)
The most recent from the Scottish-rockers proves that Franz Ferdinand has not yet lost their edge in music and are one of the greatest bands to come out of 2000’s – who are still balanced and relevant to this day. Always Ascending is a fresh start for the group, after founding member, Nick McCarthy, left the band in 2016. McCarthy was replaced by Dino Bardot and Julian Corrie (aka Miaoux Miaoux), who contribute greatly to the modern sound, especially on the titled track of the new album. Even though the band is polishing their music and lost their lead guitarist, they have not yet lost their signature jagged guitar riff style (“Lazy Boy,” “Huck and Jim”). The experimental and electropop approach from Tonight (2009) is eminent and tremendously emphasized (“Always Ascending,” “Lois Lane”). “Feel the Love Go” sends you on a disco whirl – one which lasts forever on the dance-floor – with a synthy sax riff and solo from Terry Edwards; so far being one of the best tracks of 2018. However, as the group captures you with a sensual vocal approach from frontman, Alex Kapranos and has you dance until there is no more groove box – this is the most inconsistent arrangement from the group. There are awkward transitions, slow tracks that are out of touch and misplaced (“Academy Award,” “Slow Don’t Kill Me Slow”), and overly booming synths and keys louder than the vocals. And “Lazy Boy” is just so damn lazy lyrically. However, instrumentally, its jarring.
4.) Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (2013)
Similar to Tonight, RTRWRA, focused highly on a dance-oriented style, but its a back to the basics kind of album; dance rock emphasized by one heavy riff. From the beginning of the record, you can hear the band craving another “Take Me Out” – every song ranging from “Right Action” to “Bullet” sounds like a worthy single, waiting to crack the Billboard charts. It’s a celebratory album with a lot of swagger. “Evil Eye” creates an edgy vibe and has grooves nostalgic to the Clash’s London Calling (1979). “Love Illumination” has a classic guitar riff, which could’ve been a huge glam rock hit in the seventies. “Stand on the Horizon” includes a choppy Talking Heads-esque guitar riff, with an uplifting groovy bassline. “Bullet” is a classic post-punk Franz track, which could’ve fit really well on the first two albums. The later tracks are completely different in style. They switch out the heavy guitar riffs with some keyboards and synths. The noticeable blend of this arrangement is on the standout “Treason! Animals,” which sounds like Queens of the Stone Age mixed with disco. Kaprano’s vocals are sinister, as he sings “I’m in love with a narcissist, I’m in love with my nemesis.” On the final track, “Goodbye Lovers and Friends” you’re hit with a gloomy fast-paced rhythm section, similar to Fleetwood Mac’s “Tusk.” It includes Kapranos declaring in the final seconds, “But this really is the end” – a perfect closer to an astounding comeback record. RTRWRA proved rock music was still prominent in 2013.
3.) Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (2009)
Tonight is the comeback record, put out by Franz in 2009, four years after their last release. It’s the first time Franz flirts with experimentation, with electronics at the front. This meant McCarthy had to go from working on his jagged guitar work to keyboards. And it’s the first conceptual record released by the group, where the album focuses on elements of going out at night, while carousing and encountering the effects. “Ulysses” is the opening track, as it contains a lot of bass and keyboards. Named after the Greek hero from Homer’s Odyssey, this track leads to the anticipation about how something big’s about to happen and there is so much excitement, you’re carefree about the future, as the song contains the lyrics, “you’re never going home.” Even though the band is experimenting, their classic sound has not been abandoned. You hear this on two key tracks, the tempting “No You Girls” and the bitter “Bite Hard.” Also, the band still makes your hips move on the dance floor single, “Can’t Stop Feeling.” But tracks like “Twilight Omens,” “Live Alone” and the electronic monster, “Lucid Dreams” are ahead of their time, even in the age of electronic dance music. This album hits you on first listen, which is surprising for an exploratory concept record – which sometimes takes time to resonate.
2.) Franz Ferdinand (2004)
During the climax of the garage rock/post-punk revival in the 2000s, a Glasgow band reached the Billboard Hot 100 and Modern Rock Tracks chart, with their anthem, “Take Me Out.” From the first track to the last, on their debut album, Franz is loaded with a ton of energy and riffs that defines what they are all about – seductive punk with a lot of cockiness. The opener, “Jacqueline,” starts out soft, but when McCarthy’s fast-paced guitar creeps in; all hell breaks lose. The album gets out of control as it descends to the quirky and catchy “Tell Her Tonight.” The signature tracks just keep coming too, from the foot-tapping “The Dark of the Matinée” to the homoerotic full of eyeliner “Michael.” Deeper cuts such as “Cheating on You” and “40′” shows Franz’s cleverness and are two of the best produced tracks on the album. There are so many songs here including “This Fire” and “Darts of Pleasure” that should have been as big as “Take Me Out.” Every cut here is “Super-Fantastic.”
1.) You Could Have It So Much Better (2005)
Franz’s sophomore effort is the group at their best. It’s lyrically intelligent, rough, and versatile. The stomping opener, “The Fallen,” showcases how aggressive and heavier the band is from their debut. The “Take Me Out” here is “Do You Want To,” – a giddy keyboard dance hit, which got ruined by a certain anime. After the loopy “This Boy,” Franz records their most beautiful and soothing tracks, “Walk Away” and “Elanor Put Your Boots On.” “Well That Was Easy” feels like a classic Paul McCartney song, which isn’t surprising. The group pays respect to their influences on this album. They dig deeper into relationships with a lot of soul on “You’re the Reason I’m Leaving” and especially the album’s titled track – where Kaprano’s roaring and pushy vocals steal the spotlight. The aesthetic “Fade Together” is dream-like – reminiscent to what the Kinks released in the late sixties. Even though their debut has tremendous energy and are more consistent on their debut, You Could Have It So Much Better, has the band going deeper with their sound and what kind of band they want to become. Franz didn’t slouch on their sophomore release, they peaked.