Back in 2004, Franz Ferdinand arrived on indie disco dancefloors in tight trousers, tighter guitar lines and the unashamedly smouldering intention of making music for girls to dance to. Cynically, everything that followed that Mercury Prize-winning self-titled debut hasn’t captured that spirit quite so effortlessly and glamorously, but they’ve rarely strayed from that original vision.
Quickly pick through the Franz discography and you get a chronology of consistency; of a band meeting twangy, jittery expectations with every release. Stick around as long as they have – all 15+ years – and the lack of depreciation is impressive, even if that reliability has also made them easy to miss.
But with the 2016 departure of guitarist and founding member, Nick McCarthy, it felt like an opportunity for the band to reset and ‘Always Ascending’, their first album in five years, sounds fresher for it. Working with Phillipe Zdar of Cassius on production, Franz’s jagged post-punk sound has been given a sleek overhaul with the LCD-Soundsystem-esque glitter bomb of title-track ‘Always Ascending’ and electro disco buzz of ‘Feel the Love Go’ notable for having Zdar’s fingerprints all over them.
Despite that sheen, ‘Always Ascending’ delivers on most fronts (‘Lazy Boy’ being one of the exceptions). An album that’s solid if unspectacular, it does just enough to make you forget that those skinny jeans don’t fit any more (if they ever really did), those snake-hips are love handles, and that you weren’t really a proper indie band unless at least one of you had proper cheekbones. Unlike all of the aforementioned, however, Franz Ferdinand endure.