Always Ascending marks Franz Ferdinand’s first studio album since 2013. Having catapulted themselves on to the indie rock scene in the early 2000s with breakout hits like ‘Take Me Out’ and ‘Do You Want To,’ the Scottish band sound subdued on this new album, perhaps due to the departure of guitarist Nick McCarthy.
There are still anthemic guitar lines and riffs used over the course of Always Ascending, punctuated by mellow, bass-driven songs such as ‘Lazy Boy.’ However, generally Franz Ferdinand have swapped guitar-heavy tracks for a more synth-focused sound. This links with the band’s early promise to “make records that girls can dance to” in a world where indie is dominated by chants and riffs.
Standout songs on this album are few and far between, with much of the record feeling like filler for big tunes like ‘Lazy Boy’ and the title track. ‘Finally,’ for example, feels like a song that should be a massive hit, but it suffers from a lack of a satisfying climax.
Lyrically, there are instances of poignant metaphors for current events and the state of society in ‘Paper Cages’ and ‘Huck and Jim.’ However, lines such as “You make good choices to change our world so you could be happy,” on the song ‘Lois Lane,’ are a little on the nose. The rest of that song, too, feels convoluted, with a mishmash of ideas in every other verse.
In a nutshell: A lack of energy and meaningful lyrics for most of Always Ascending sees Franz Ferdinand hinder potential hits and tarnish their good name.