The First Great Album of 2009 is… Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

Such is life in 2009 that “new music Tuesday” no longer means a drive down to the local Tower Records but slavish reloading of the iTunes home screen around 23:45 PST on Monday. And given the iTunes economy the idea of immediately purchasing the album is a rare decision indeed even for established bands that you love (can you say “St. Anger,” Metallica?). Right now there are only couple bands where I immediately buy the album without even listening: No Doubt / Gwen Stefani, Pet Shop Boys, Madonna, U2, The Killers, and moving forward The Bravery.

And if you get a certain sense from that list you’d not be too far off. New Wave + “Neo Wave. ”  Which, I am proud to say, means that I’ve kept the promise I made in 1988 when I wrote in the Residence Halls Association yearbook profile (I was a council member) that I hoped I’d still be listening to 80’s music in twenty years. I sure do listen to that classic music, especially thanks to targeted programming on XM radio. But the fact that the groups I tend to like today sound a lot like that bands I liked yesterday is no coincidence. 

Franz Ferdinand Tonight
Tonight: Franz Ferdinand

In any case, that brings us to today’s big release from Neo Wave stallwarts Franz Ferdinand. On their past albums I basically “cherry picked” the really good songs, a common practice in the iTunes Economy. Sure… I’ll buy the whole album but that’s not the default option. 

iTunes is nice in that you can listen to 30 second samples, but artist websites often have the full tracks. Franz Ferdinand’s MySpace page has all their songs available for listening, so I took a good listen to the tracks from today’s release, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. The idea was to listen with the idea of trying to figure out which tracks were the “good ones” to pick off on iTunes. But as I listened I kept liking more and more of the tracks. And once you get to eight or nine, you might as well spend the $9.99 for the entire album.

There are easily eight or nine killer tracks on this album. Highlights include the lead single “Ulysses” and basically the rest of “side one” (“Turn it On,” “No You Girls,” “Send Him Away,” “Twilight Omens,” “Bite Hard,” and “What She Came For.”). Great driving beats, the classic “Franz Ferdinand” stomp, increased uses of keyboards, and new-wavy choppy lyrics.  The album has a couple so-so tracks at the end but the album does end on a great note with the short version of “Lucid Dreams.”

So congrats, Franz Ferdinand, on the first great album of 2009! 

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