As much as I loved "Take Me Out" when it first reared it's head in 2004, I hated Franz Ferdinand because they'd become the most over-hyped indie-band ever. Everywhere you turned around, Franz Ferdinand appeared. I knew they were a solid, sound band, but I was like "are they really worthy of all this hype?" The answer to that question was of course, no, at least in my eyes, but I always thought the band was good, if not great. Their self-titled debut of course went platinum here in the States, making you think 'oh they're not so indie, now are they'. However, their second album, the underrated YOU COULD HAVE IT SO MUCH BETTER flopped, selling under 400,000 in the states. A four year hiatus brings us to TONIGHT, which doesn't necessarily trump their debut, but does reinstate some of the glory of their debut. It is doubtful that Franz will ever have another "Take Me Out" (they were semi-close with "Do You Want To"), but tracks like "Ulysses" and "No You Girls" are pretty good if I may say so myself. Gnarls Barkley didn't return with another "Crazy" after all, now did they?
The album starts with the brilliant "Ulysses", which in my eyes is one of Franz's best and most fun tracks. Maybe it's not "Take Me Out", but it comes pretty close. The synthesizer sounds and guitar effects add to the greatness that is "Ulysses", a certified indie-rock gem. "Turn It On" keeps the momentum going, causing TONIGHT not to miss a single beat. With Franz's signature thick bass lines, "Turn It On" reminds us that despite the over-hype given to Franz Ferdinand in 2004, they really are one of today's greatest rock bands. Not even 4 years could deteriorate that reputation.
"No You Girls" keeps driving TONIGHT with another genuine hit. The guitars are in the pocket and the organization epitomized in the production is phenomenal. "No You Girls" with it's incredibly catchy, tuneful refrain is definitely one of my favorites from TONIGHT (second only to say "Ulysses"). Alex Kapranos is on his 'A' game.
"Send Him Away" lays well, as does the majority on this album. Maybe a shade less catchy than "Ulysses", "Turn It On", or "No You Girls", "Send Him Away" is still indie-rock epitomized at its best. Perhaps the best part of "Send Him Away" is the stylistic change that happens a little more than a minute from the ending, in which you see Franz Ferdinand extend their style and take risks. This risk does not miss.
"Twilight Omens" continues Franz Ferdinand's experiments with synthesized sounds combined with dirty, crisp 60s sounding guitars. It is another solid number, if not as solid as "Ulysses" or "No You Girls". However, let me say even if this track is a shade less desirable than the "cream of the crop", contextually speaking, this track is still way above par.
"Bite Hard" finds the Scottish boys slowing down the tempo, well at least at first that is. After lovely balladry by Kapranos upon the onset of "Bite Hard", the boys go into full-fledged dance-rock in which Kapranos shouts enthused "bite hard!". Again, no complaints as this track lays as well as everything else on TONIGHT.
"What She Came For" begins with one of the albums sickest grooves as of yet. Honestly, this groove would fit perfectly on any retro-soul/neo-soul album - urban producers would kill for this groove, honestly. As catchy as the lyrics are, the production is equally as catchy with wacky effects and a phenomenal timbre. A great track in my eyes; it embodies the classic rock sound that was the 1960s.
"Live Alone" is as close as you can get to techno without ruining the indie-rock ambiance. It is solid, but not necessarily a favorite for me. The sounds are great, the vocals first-rate, and even the concept is worthwhile; it just doesn't overtake "Ulysses", that's all.
"Can't Stop Feeling" continues an exploration of pop-sounds incorporated with indie-rock. Again, the effect is an interesting, successful one. To compare Franz Ferdinand and say The Killers maybe a bit off, but both of these bands are searching to make rock music that is danceable again, like it used to be. If you think back to The Rolling Stones with a great hit like "Miss You" not only did it rock hard, it also was very danceable. I believe that is the effect that with a track like "Can't Stop Feeling" or the Killers' "Mr. Brightside" that is the sort of effect being sought.
"Lucid", at 7:56, is the lengthiest listen of TONIGHT, but is worthwhile, as is everything on TONIGHT. "Lucid" turns out to be one of the stronger listens actually, making it a key track. On this track, Franz Ferdinand pools all their knowledge of pop sensibilities and catchy hooks to make one killer song. And ladies and gentleman, what about all of those sick-synths? Have Franz Ferdinand been working with hip-hop producers or something? Kudos, maybe all the 2004 was truly deserved Franz Ferdinand.
"Dream Again" find Franz Ferdinand reserving the tempo slightly, but not without all the extravagance of synthesizers and maybe drum programming as well? Here, I hear an influence of Simon and Garfunkle because of the lazy, restrained quality of the vocals here. Batting 1000 boys, batting 1000.
The album closes with "Katherine Kiss Me", which begins with only acoustic guitars (can you believe it?). Sincere as any singer-songwriter song, "Katherine" proves to be an interesting ending to a very interesting album. I do question why the boys would end this overall uptempo album with a singer-songwriter styled number? Maybe "Katherine" would've been better served as the penultimate track. Ultimately, it isn't a big deal though, as Franz Ferdinand return full-fledged with this great third effort. 4 stars, Franz.