In a time of constant reworking of old formulas and borderline repetition, risk-taking is becoming more and more necessary for success. Franz Ferdinand seems to be aware of this, but isn’t aware that part of the risk goes with the saying “out with the old, in with the new.”
You Could Have It So Much Better has a complete divide in style. The first half of So Much Better is an experimental, pop-fizzle movement with dance-inspired tunes. The other half is Franz adhering to the disco-punk sound that made its first album so successful. Much is left to be desired once you reach the second half of the album. Musically, the band becomes lazy. What you get is a band playing it safe while still trying to reinvent itself. Unfortunately, you can’t have it both ways. By “Well That Was Easy,” the sense of discovery has been abandoned and the retread of the old and familiar is being disagreeably summarized.
This problem wouldn’t be an issue at all if Franz’s new exploration of sound didn’t come off so well. Instead, what you get is a partial sequel to its first album with a refreshingly stirring dose of pop rock that seems to taunt you endlessly as you leak into the second half. The second part of the album comes off as tedious and insignificant.
In the end, sticking to your guns is fine when it proves successful, but you can’t expect the safety net that is your original sound to spring you back up on the balance beam. If Franz had been willing to take the plunge and fully separate themselves from the now tiresome disco-punk formula it has embedded into half this album, So Much Better might have been a crowning achievement.. Instead, you have a magnificent tease letting you know they could have it so much better.
Danny Gordon can be contacted at email@example.com.