Franz Ferdinand - You Could Have It So Much Better
Reviewed by Simon on 5th October 2005
As far as music journalism cliché's go, the "difficult second album curse" is perhaps the one which bears the most truth. So many bands have proven to be one album wonders even if their follow-ups still sold in their millions. It's easy enough to please a devoted fanbase with your second offering, but the trick is knowing how to go about pleasing the critics and those who didn't love your earlier material. For Glasgow's art school rockers Franz Ferdinand, the task is more daunting than it would be for nearly anybody else producing music on the planet right now - tours galore, press adulation, and several million sales of their angular genre defining debut later, and they're expected to do it all over again but better - a mere 18 months later.
"You Could Have It So Much Better" is their answer to these doubts, and luckily (also slightly surprisingly) is far more than a mere rehash of the original sound. For a band as mainstream as Franz, this is a complete revolution in places, as the jagged dancefloor filling refrains make way in places for simple Beatles inspired ballads, including pianos and pipes. Tracks such as "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" and "Fade Together" epitomise this new contributing factor to their persona perfectly, after all, not many bands would take on Lennon/McCartney-esque songwriting, and arguable do it justice.
Older fans should fear not though, for the angular tracks written "to make girls dance" are still here in abundance throughout this thirteen track offering. Potential hit singles, include lyrically humorous opener "The Fallen" with it's catchy chorus and jibes at those who give "a damn about the profits of Tesco". Later in the album, "Well That Was Easy" proves to be the standout by a clear distance with it's insanely catchy chorus and numerous changes back and forth in tempo. In short, it's both a classic and an inevitable single. Time will tell whether it deservedly becomes the bands first number one and finally shakes off the tag of Franz being the band that wrote "Take Me Out" and... err... some other fairly decent stuff that nobody remembers the name of a year on. Recent top five single, "Do You Want To" remains relatively untouched for it's album incarnation, and fits in well after the equally as good aforementioned opener "The Fallen". Elsewhere the album soars in the right places, and changes tempo to more introspective and retro sounding moments before it descends into a mere overwhelming wave of guitar thrusting single material.
Indeed, this is a masterful return to the fray for the credible mainstream band that everybody and their parents can't help but enjoy. Sure to please anybody who enjoyed their debut, and win over many more fans to join the already massive ranks of adulators, "You Could Have It So Much Better" will no doubt be both a critical and commercial success - and with tunes as good as the thirteen on show here, who could begrudge them their continuing rise to superstardom. The first contender for the Mercury Music Prize 2006? Quite probably.
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