It’s the new Franz Ferdinand album that’s passing the time at the moment. Hard to say what they’ve done but they’ve made the leap from excitable but ultimately short-lived fun to decent grafters with more than a brief knack for a decent tune. The new record – quite feebly titled ‘You Could Have It So Much Better with… – bounds along at quite a pace. But, where the previous album appeared to be based on a couple of killers riffs, they’re far more willing to try different things this time around. The slower tunes (what do you mean, you want titles) are actually particularly accomplished indie tunes that stand strong without having to throb with a pulse like that of the proverbial dirty old man at a wet t-shirt contest. Whether it’ll still be being played in a few weeks, who knows, but it’s already managed to surpass expectations.
A less delightful experience was the new Warchild album, ‘Help : A Day In The Life’. It’s hard to knock something like this because it’s for charideee, but musically it’s not all there. I still totally advocate purchasing the thing – partly for the good cause, partly for a couple of excellent tunes. Coldplay turn in the sort of sub-Coldplay tosh they’ve taken to farming out beyond their endless re-writes of ‘Clocks’ for their singles, and Keane, Hard-Fi and The Go! Team deliver mediocre offerings that you need only hear once. If at all. Crime of the album is the take on ‘I Heard It Through the Grapevine’ by Kaiser Chiefs. I would say it’d be funny if it wasn’t so awful. But it wouldn’t. Never.
The Manics’ contribution suggests that after the promising progress of ‘Lifeblood’ they’ve decided to piss off back to Generation Terrorists b-side land with chunky guitar sounds and little to remember when the song fades sharply from the speakers. The highs, for there are a some, come from guaranteed performers Elbow and Gorillaz and, more surprisingly from indie hit-and-miss merchants Razorlight and Bloc Party. These latter acts both turn in tunes that you suspect they’d be happy to release on their own records rather than just being a generous donation of averageness. The Gorillaz track may as well be attributed to Damon Albarn, but that’s no bad thing. It appears to have come from the same, splendid place as vintage Blur b-side, ‘Black Book’. Well worth checking out, even if little else is.