Hippo Manchester
October 13, 2005

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Franz Ferdinand, You Could Have It So Much Better

Domino, 2005

***1/2

It’s a good thing Franz Ferdinand is so cool, or there would be endless snarky rebuttals to the title of their second album. “You sure could — buy their first!” I won’t say. Nor will I suggest, “You sure could — buy some Sex Pistols!”

No. You Could Have It So Much Better doesn’t quite live up to the band’s killer debut, but it’s still some damn rousing post-punk rockingness. My biggest complaint is the dearth of clever melodic lines on the stark, evil, Munsters-theme-song lead guitar that marked “Take Me Out” and “40’” last time around. The instrument is there, to be sure, but it claims no song as its own like it did those.

Instead, the defining riff has to be in track 2, “Do You Want To.” It’s right out of the 80s, with lead singer Alexander Kapranos going “doot-doo” right along with an overdriven guitar. I swear I’ve heard it in a commercial. Or maybe it’s just destined for that.

The most uncharacteristic song is, paradoxically, the best. “Eleanor Put Your Boots On” is a sweetly creepy tune played mostly on piano and background acoustic guitar. An instrumental chorus adds subtle electric guitar and synth harpsichord that would make John Lennon squeal like a little piggy.

By the way, I dare you to listen to “Evil and a Heathen” without thinking of the Kinks’ “A Well Respected Man.” And hey, if you don’t like one of the disc’s 13 songs, the longest you’ll have to wait for the next one is four minutes, and it’s all over in 41 minutes. 

— John “jaQ” Andrews