Tonight: Franz Ferdinand is the third album by Scottish rock group Franz Ferdinand. It was released through Domino Records on 26 January 2009 in the UK. “Ulysses” was released on the 19 January 2009 as the first single. It is a concept album loosely based around a night of partying and the morning effects after. The album has generally been well-received by music critics.

Recording history

Although having written about eight songs while on tour in 2005, Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy decided to write new tunes because they wanted the album to be “…quite new, to be quite different sounding from everything we’ve ever done before.” Despite having recorded their second album in a blitz, Kapranos stressed that the band wanted to take their time. He voices, “This time we wanted to spend more time developing, and also, I suppose, allowing songs and sounds to evolve more before we ended up writing an album, and absorbing more music and ideas and, I suppose, life itself. And when I say life, I mean life off the road, because I wouldn’t classify life on the road as real life.” Franz Ferdinand began working on their third studio album in early 2007. Franz Ferdinand was supposed to record the album with producer Brian Higgins, yet in March 2008, the two entities parted ways. The drummer, Paul Thomson, says “We wrote with Higgins for a while and initially we thought we’d work more with him but it didn’t really work out. We just realized that we’re not really a pop group.” However, they also commented they have not given up on the pop concept. Some songs of the album were written and recorded in the old town hall of Govan, Scotland. The band first moved in, following a year of touring in support of their second album and mostly used it for storing and rehearsing.

Musical style

The album has reportedly been inspired by the “heavy dub sound of Jamaican reggae stars.” Alex Kapranos also stated the album has a “streak of electronica” but is still a mix of influences. He also commented it has “…the heavy bass and space echo you would find on a dub mix.” In a Rolling Stone interview, Kapranos stated the album is more of a dance than a rock record. In an interview with Billboard.com, Kapranos said “It’s the opposite of punk/pop, which took something that was wonderful and removed all the dirt.” He also said the band is using Russian Polyvox synthesizers. The album has somewhat of an African influence according to an XFM article in which Alex reeled, “We’re one of these bands that are always gonna sound the same no matter what we do, but there are other influences there. I guess the drums are a little different, Paul has been listening to a lot of African stuff so that’s gonna come through.” The song “No You Girls” uses a human skeleton for percussion. “Tonight is more of a concept album that explores the highs and lows associated with an evening of debauchery. This album covers all its bases from the initial excitement of the early evening to the numbness of the morning after”, writes one reviewer.

Critical Reception

Tonight received generally good reviews with a total score of 70 on Metacritic with 32 reviews. It did not receive the amount of critical acclaim their first album received. Clash magazine commented that it could be “the band’s most complete work to date. Worth the wait, and in all honesty better than we could ever have hoped for.” The Financial Post states that “Tonight is the band’s best album: Paradoxically, they’ve allowed themselves a degree of release from their characteristic tension by creating structures within which they can cut loose.” The Telegraph commented on how Tonight: Franz Ferdinand is a melody-packed re-affirmation of everything that has made the band so popular hitherto, but with a highly contemporary-sounding, keyboard-driven edge. The Trades stated that “this is an evolutionary step for the band rather than a revolutionary one. Smart and danceable, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand proves that Franz Ferdinand are the masters of dance-rock.” NBC commented on how ‘Franz Ferdinand has once again managed to outdo themselves with their best album to date.’
Uncut’s and The Guardian’s reviews were less enthusiastic. Uncut commented that the album sounds dry and superficial, and the songs are too similar to each other and other Franz Ferdinand songs. The Guardian stated that “if Franz’s songwriting is broader than it was, it is still no deeper” and that “they’ll keep trying to move your hips because they know they’ll never win your heart.” This was echoed by the review in the Daily Mail, which described the album as “a sterile, unwelcoming affair that fails to pack the band’s usual punch.” Paste Magazine was similarly severe, stating that the vocals are “leering”, the production “horrific”, and that the lyrics “seem to lack both heart and brain” and conclude by writing that “the layoff suggests that Franz is either too confused or too lazy to move forward”.

Track List

Standard edition

1. Ulysses – 3:11
2. Turn It On – 2:21
3. No You Girls – 3:42
4. Send Him Away – 2:59
5. Twilight Omens – 2:30
6. Bite Hard – 3:26
7. What She Came For– 3:52
8. Live Alone – 3:29
9. Can’t Stop Feeling – 3:03
10. Lucid Dreams – 7:56
11. Dream Again – 3:18
12. Katherine Kiss Me – 2:56

iTunes bonus tracks (US and Canada)

13. “Lucid Dreams” (Pre-Album Version) – 3:42
14. “Ulysses” (The Disco Bloodbath Effect) – 8:03 [Pre-Order Only]
15. “Feeling Kind of Anxious” – 6:31 [Pre-Order only]

Edited by mattdecat on 8 Jan 2012, 04:37

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