Is anyone having more fun on their albums than Franz Ferdinand? No. Is anyone making better music than Franz Ferdinand? Yes. There’s no shame in either statement in light of Franz’s sophomore album, You Could Have It So Much Better. These Scots have pretty much perfected the 3 1/2 minute guitar romp with relative ease (The album’s longest song “I’m Your Villian” is practically prog rock at 4:03). It’s a formula Franz Ferdinand seems quite content sticking to, and why shouldn’t they?
As album titles go, You Could Have It So Much Better certainly allows for the listener to wonder if they are getting the best out of FF, or if it was possible for them to have it better. This latest effort is in no way an improvement over their first album. It’s a Saturday night album to put on at a party so your guests feel like they’re immersed in some hipster moment. Listen too closely to the lyrics and you’ll run smack dab into homoerotic gems like “He’s a friend and we’re so proud of you/He’s a friend and I blew him before you” or preachy moments like “You’re so serious/Like a waiter/Hating the rich/But taking their tips.” Kapranos uses his voice more creatively this time around–sounding like the best and worst of rock singers and ska crooners at the same time.
The best song on the album is “Walk Away”, a less bombastic but more measured effort. You get the feeling that Alex Kapranos and Co. may have spent more than 5 minutes on this one. There is no “Take Me Out” on the album, but there aren’t too many duds either. “Fade Together” and “Outsiders” both see Franz expanding outside of their hyper-danceable art rock tracks. The songs take longer to develop, as opposed to plunging you right into a guitar-led hook.
The album is a few songs too long. Sometimes, it’s better leaving the listener wanting more, instead of wishing they had it “so much better”.