Sometimes integrity comes at a price. I’m talking about singers actually writing their own songs and lyrics, here. In the case of the Scottish Franz Ferdinand’s fifth LP, then (which seems like an astonishingly scant amount of albums for them to have out at this point), it rears its ugly head in the form of the first two songs on this album literally be about Alex Kapranos lying in his girlfriend’s bed, stretching this topic across whole songs at a time. So why don’t these cuts fail? First of all, the title track lead in initiates itself with a pretty sharply poignant piano pattern reminiscent of one of the band’s best songs, “Eleanor Put Your Boots on” from 2005’s You Could Have it So Much Better. The proceedings then jaunt along gradually but energetically, gleaning a pretty clear Stone Roses influence (which certainly seems to be all in style these days) and piping in with a fresh combination of zany sounds which culminates in this rigorously rapid bounce-fest of synths.
So MUSICALLY, this band is inspired, in other words, and they sound they’re having fun rocking out on these college-dance-rock run-throughs. “Lazy Boy,” aside from just being kind of funny seeing as he keeps saying “I’m a lazy boy / I’m a lazy boy”, sprinkles out a number of pleasing elements, such as weird phrasings (where you don’t know where a certain pattern is going to end, or when the vocals will come in), also a piercing, sky-climbing synthesizer all over a shamelessly, da**-funky beat signature to FF lore. “Paper Cages” is a fine romper about busting loose and freeing yourself as a human in life and “Finally” might be the album’s proudest moment, opening with a sharp organ riff over gentle funk, only to bust loose with lyrics about spring into off-kilter dance rock, the snares always busting beats you don’t expect them to and the lyrics simple but inspiring: “Finally I found my people / Found the people who were meant to be found by me”. Kapranos’ caustic UK sense of humor is at work all over this puppy, too, as in “The Academy Award” and the “Love is a drag / We don’t need any more”. What kind of album will Always Ascending go down as in time, in this Franz Ferdinand catalogue? It might be hard to say at this time — nothing on it matches the unerring rhythm of their self-titled debut or the celestial melody of You Could Have it So Much Better, but it will be fun trying to figure it out, anyway.