Franz Ferdinand 

Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

Hot Chip/Kylie Minogue producer Dan Carey gets coproduction honors for this quasi-concept album based on a night of lounge lizard-inspired clubbing and the morning after. Building on a self-titled 2004 debut that tagged Franz Ferdinand as transatlantic Interpol replicas due to both groups trafficking in Joy Division's post-punk combination of throbbing bass and thumping beats, the Scottish quartet gets more esoteric this time around.

In attempting to break away from an earlier sound dominated by choppy guitar jangle and ominous rhythms, synths get dialed up in a way that has Tonight: Franz Ferdinand taking some risks that pay off handsomely. The beeping Korg and shuffling tempo make "Live Alone" an irresistible slice of Giorgio Moroder-flavored manna, and somehow the meandering "Send Him Away" squeezes crisp Afro-pop guitar riffs, ethereal chord progressions, and Fela-ish cadences into a coherent-enough package to give Vampire Weekend pause.

Elsewhere, the squawking bleeps and handclaps punctuating "Can't Stop Feeling" make for another dance-floor-worthy gem, while smarmy lines like, With a laugh like that/Or a look like that/You make us all feel gauche in the funky "What She Came For" effectively fuse Bryan Ferry-ish pretension with late-1970s-era Rod Stewart strut. The boys do try to mix it up as evidenced by droning musical emergency brake "Dream Again," an epic packed with Depeche-flavored pinging synths and a laborious tempo. Likewise, "Katherine Kiss Me," a beautiful acoustic ballad, sticks out like Cat Stevens at a rave. Give Franz Ferdinand credit for trying to shake up a formula best served when BPMs are in the high end of the spectrum. (Domino/Epic)


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