Franz Ferdinand - Always Ascending album review

Fifth album is a clever, polished pop gem

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It’s good. It’s clean. It’s proper. In other words, Always Ascending is full of proper (1970s) tunes and (1980s) hooks and proper (1990s) beautiful repetition and affectionate little steals from fellow Scots Altered Images (‘You could be happy’ on the livewire Lois Lane). And, as ever, the songs are full of proper nervy little couplets from Alex Kapranos (’I enjoy being a lazy boy lying in your bed/Thinking how the lazy boy loves you’ – the whipsmart Lazy Boy).

Always Ascending, FF’s fifth studio album, was recorded in Paris, and has a sound that Kapranos describes as being “futuristic and naturalistic”. Throw in ‘smouldering’ and you’re nearly there. Songs like the immediately loveable Paper Cages and Finally are equal parts LCD Soundsystem, Sparks and cheeky early 80s pop stars Orange Juice. A little bit sleazy and slick, of course, but the accusations of ‘workmanlike’ don’t hold here. Always Ascending is a class act, polished, honed, several cuts above the mewling herd. New guitarist or not, Franz Ferdinand abide.