Follow-up albums are the truth teller of the status of any band. There is always pressure to not only duplicate the success of the bands debut, but expand on it as well. They can take one record wonders and put them on the path to super-stardom or they can force an artist into extinction.

Franz Ferdinand was a band in such a dilemma. How would they repeat their self-titled debut of last summer that sounded like no other record out at the time? Would they follow the same formula of cocky energized guitar driven pop rock or would they try a new sound?

On their new record, “You Could Have It So Much Better,” released in the United States on Tuesday, the Scottish hipsters answered just about every applicable question with a resounding yes.

The record has everything their debut album had, with a few twists and turns even that the band’s most diehard fans couldn’t have seen coming. Overall, the band’s main goal since its formation – getting girls to dance to their music – was definitely achieved.

Songs like “Do You Want To” nod to their previous success. Smooth guitar riffs? Yes. Cocky and at times both self-effacing and self-indulging? You Bet. Hedonist song themes? Check. Ass-shaking bass lines? Uh huh. And, is it still damn catchy? Of course.

Unlike other sophomore efforts, this record enters previously uncharted territory for these lads. Tracks such as “Walk Away” are indie at times, but also contain some straight up soul chops that many listeners would probably not expect. One may call it a love song, but unlike the band’s other love songs – the upbeat “Michael,” for example, with its allusions to the lead singer’s gay desires – this one features references to Hitler in addition to Mao Tse-Tung.

The band shows knowledge of rock’s forefathers with the track “Eleanor Put Your Boots On.” Its Beatlesque melodies coupled with borderline folk inspired lyrics – la Bob Dylan – make for a song that goes beyond the band’s normal poppy dance beats.

So, with the second effort, Franz Ferdinand has managed a difficult one-two punch – maintaining their popular effortless dancy sound that got them to where they are, but they also still managed to push the envelope, developing space for the band’s evolution.

And, with a strong affirmation, this record, like their freshman debut, will still make all the girls just want to dance.

Allard can be reached at dallard@campustimes.org.



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