Franz Ferdinand, 'Tonight: Franz Ferdinand' (Domino/Epic)

7
Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
Critical Mass
Label: Domino/Epic

by Brian Raftery

How did Scottish people ever have sex before the existence of Franz Ferdinand? No offense to the Highlands' cozy twee-pop lineage, but until this Glasgow band's lusty2004 debut, the height of Scot-rock ribaldry was either (a) Shirley Manson or (b) Rod Stewart in a kilt.

Tonight is Franz's boldest attempt at a full-on disco record. The synths on "Twilight Omens" recall Giorgio Moroder, while the bass line on "Can't Feel Anymore" is straight outta Larry Levan's Paradise Garage. But because the dance floor is far less interesting when couples pair off and leave, Tonight is all about the art of the extended flirt. "I wrote your name upon the back of my hand," Alex Kapranos sings in "Omens." "Then I woke up with it backwards on my face." Few of the would-be lovers here close the deal, thanks to distances both physical (the globe-trotting "Lucid Dreams") and emotional (the stomping "no You Girls Never Know").

Even at just 42 minutes, Tonight is relentless, yet the comedown is exquisite:"Katherine Kiss Me," the closing acoustic ballad, is a Ray Davies daydream about a brief alleyway encounter. It's not quite a love song, and like all fleeting hookups, the pleasure comes not only from the consummation, but also from the knowledge that the whole process can start again tomorrow night.

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