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Monday, October 10, 2005


So Much Better

The best of the 80's dance rock revivalists (is that damning with faint praise?), Franz Ferdinand don't make albums as much as they make greatest hits collections. The new record, You Could Have It So Much Better, starts off at a thousand miles an hour with their best song yet, The Fallen, and never lets up. The leadoff single, Do You Want To?, is dumb enough to be be a genuine hit, maybe, and the rest of the disc is filled with alternate universe smash singles. Frankly, I find this record preferrable to the debut, which had a handful of songs stronger than what you'll find here (The Fallen excepted), but as a whole left me a bit cold. This time, while the highs aren't quite as high (The Fallen excepted) the low spots aren't as low.

Many reviews of the new FF have centered on whether or not they beat the so-called "sophomore slump," which is one of the laziest tropes in record reviewing. It's also a non-existent phenomenon, The Strokes' Room On Fire notwithstanding. There are just as many terrible debuts and third albums as second albums. If a bad band follows up a shitty first record with an equally shitty second one, have they beaten the slump? And there are far too many second records which stand as an artist's signal achievement: Nevermind. You're Living All Over Me. Doolittle. Axis Bold As Love. Neil Young came back from his uneven debut with the brilliant Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. Dylan went from promising folk cover artist to Freewheelin' Bob.

But what I really want to know is, what does Mattie think? With the Sox done for the year, I assume he has more time to ponder the rock.

The rock is pondered. Well, the easiest thing to write would be "Ditto," although I'm not ready yet to make the claim that I prefer this album to the debut. The Fallen is certainly a fantastic song, I had to repeat it the first time I put in the CD. After 4 listens, though, I can't say I actively remember any of the songs besides the first 2. Perhaps it is because they all sound equally good that it will take awhile to break it down (Electric Version was like that for me), or it is because they overall aren't as strong as the songs on the debut. We'll see.
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