Franz Ferdinand are a band. Let's get that nice and sparkling clear, shall we? And, as such, bands make music. Sometimes they make a little music, sometimes they make a lot but they always can be counted on to know where exactly they came from. Now imagine, expanding on Armando Iannucci's analogy about how we indulge the creative members of our society, that Franz Ferdinand were butchers. Okay, so they turned up, all neatly dressed and hygienic, in 2004 and they did indeed chop some good meat. They filleted, they minced and they quite possibly even boned a liitle. And we all saw what they had done and we were pleased. The following year, they saw fit to make sausages and even showed us how to spatchcock a game bird or two. Well done, the Franz!
Now, after a long-deserved break, they return in 2009 - the year of the Ox - and suddenly Franz Ferdinand have gone cannibal on us. Gone are the carefree days of the Slap Rump or a generous bit of Top Bone action, now they want to eat you, body and soul. Something dark happened while they were away and now they want your blood. You can hear the pulsating jugular beat in opening track "Ulysses" and then pretty much everywhere else on the album. Flesh tears, tendons snap and bones are stripped clean as we descend into the Danza Macabra, the Zombie Jamboree. And finally (not including the superb Erol Alkan remix of "Do You Want To"), Franz are leading the charge back onto the dancefloors, where all good Pop music belongs.
Franz Ferdinand have never been a dark band, musically or otherwise, but this sees them finally shake off the formulaic "Mr Soft as performed by the Fire Engines" vibe that their previous two albums were mired in. Add to that the fact that Alex Kapranos, while clearly better dressed than 99% of his peers, is old enough to know better and so is possessed with the classier brand of Pop nous that age brings, and we could be looking at a band that will actually stand the test of time. They say you get the heroes you deserve and, in the same month that the NME somewhat pathetically pits a crass anachronism like Noel Gallagher up against Barack Obama as Hero of 2008, God only knows that we need some new ones.