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A respectful morning after.

Byline: Craig S. Semon


"Tonight: Franz Ferdinand"

Franz Ferdinand (Epic)

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Despite being sleazy and on the make, Franz Ferdinand delivers music that will make you respect them in the morning, without making the listener think less of themselves, with "Tonight: Franz Ferdinand."

Heavily applying synths to its signature rock guitars-meets-dance-groove formula, the Scottish quartet (made up of singer-guitarist Alex Kapranos, guitarist Nick McCarthy, bassist Bob Hardy and drummer Paul Thompson) serves up a loose but lascivious concept album about a liquor-fueled evening of club-hopping, carousing, idle chitchat, confronting personal hang-ups, chance encounters and, if one's lucky, random hookups in an alleyway.

In addition, this mostly nocturnal opus ends with the swelled-head second-guessing that usually accompanies the dreaded morning after.

Kapranos sets off on a perilous journey where he will have run-ins with drunken sailors and modern-day sirens on the tone-setting single "Ulysses." In full nightclubbing warrior regalia, Kapranos psyches himself up for the treacherous and lecherous night ahead. And what better way to rally the troops than the hedonistic battle cry, "Come on. Let's get high!" delivered over a frenetic mix of snarling guitars, gurgling synths and stomping drums.

Keeping one dance step away from being slapped with a restraining order, Kapranos tells the object of his affection, "If I can't have you then nobody can/Yeah. Yeah. Yeah" on the dance groovy stalker tale "Turn It On," and reveals himself to be a nicotine-drenched narcissist who would love to get to know you (at least for one night) on the deliciously depraved dance stomp "No You Girls."

Giving new meaning to the term "static cling," Kapranos wants a female acquaintance to show her lover, who is still tangled in her bedsheets, the door on the infectious, Afro-pop-influenced "Send Him Away."

On another track, Kapranos thinks finding a girl's name (that he wrote the night before on the back of his hand) backward on his forehead is one of several "Twilight Omens" from the love gods that they are destined to be together.

While it is more likely that the singer is merely the human equivalent of Silly Putty with way too much time (and Magic Marker scribbles) on his hands, Kapranos is appealing as the hopeless romantic looking too deeply into things, including whether to break the three-day phone rule.

Shifting from tenderly sung piano ballad to tenacious glam rock head-banger, "Bite Hard" examines how romance sometimes unmercifully chews you up and spits you out.

Not fooling anyone, Kapranos carries on in pseudonyms and song about how he's happy being on his own while sinking his teeth into the gnawing sentiment of the song's title.

Kapranos fantasizes about forging a new utopia for him and his would-be lover on the spacey, eight-minute electro-pop opus "Lucid Dreams." After the impassioned singer belts, "I'm going to give my aimless love/My angry heart and my desire," the song turns into psychedelic head trip with a transcendent, four-and-a-half-minute instrumental that is destined to make a deeply cognitive connection with the listener.

The album ends with the acoustic ballad "Katherine Kiss Me," a sobering tale of a random alleyway hookup that might have what it takes to become a budding romance. With all the rock pretense and posturing stripped clean, it will certainly win over the listener's heart.

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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Feb 19, 2009
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