The standard line about having your whole life to write your first album and only six months to write your second seemed especially true in the case of Franz Ferdinand. The Glaswegian band issued its sophomore effort You Could Have It So Much Better some 18 months after its 2004 self-titled debut– a narrow window considering that first record yielded three top 10 UK singles, a Mercury Prize, and a steady touring itinerary that saw them ascend from clubs to concert halls to the Grammys. But the quick turnaround and life on the road didn’t affect the quality of the material so much as the band’s performance of it– sounding brawnier and brasher than on their debut, Franz Ferdinand ripped through the album’s 13 songs.
Franz Ferdinand must’ve therefore been happy to sit out the past three years. In the time since Franz released their last album, their American contemporaries the Killers have already gone Springsteen and then swung back to their synth-pop roots, while next-generation UK upstarts like the Arctic Monkeys have weathered their own cycle of hyperbole, hibernation, and orchestral side projects. During that time, Franz Ferdinand first seemed poised to reemerge as the biggest pop band in the UK– having initially tapped Girls Aloud guru Brian Higgins (Xenomania) to produce their third album– or the most commercially suicidal, eventually parting ways with Higgins and indulging in extended studio jams, electronic experiments, and deconstructed, Martin Hannett-like recording techniques (complete with tales of using human bones for percussion).
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