After collaborating with Sparks in 2015, the newly reconfigured Franz Ferdinand line-up return with Always Ascending. Lots has changed in the Franz world – heartthrob guitarist Nick McCarthy is sitting this one out with keyboard player Julian Corrie and ex 1990s guitarist Dino Bardot entering the picture. The build-up that opens the title track is exciting and sounds like the background music to an action movie trailer. On the other hand I could do without the less than inspiring refrain of “I’m a lazy boy” chant in “Lazy Boy”.
The 80s keyboards are a nice touch in “Lois Lane”. “Huck and Jim” sounds like two mediocre song stuck together. Maybe I’m a sucker for slower FF tracks (see: “Eleonor Put Your Boots Back On“) but the much maligned “The Academy Award” is the song that sticks the most when the disc has stopped spinning. I don’t think it’s a great song but the stylized up-tempo numbers mostly blend together and unlike past releases, very little here particularly stands out.