The album is the half-baked offspring of recycled ideas and hasty creation. The band toured for most of 2004 and 2005, writing and recording the new record whenever they could squeeze in studio time. It shows -- most of these songs either ride a latent hook to the close ("You're the Reason I'm Leaving") or overindulge in angular, Gang of Four-style guitar work (first single "Do You Want To"). By rushing to get an album's worth of material out, Franz Ferdinand already runs the risk of turning unique concepts into predictable party tricks.

The group breaks from the beaten path only a few times, and with mixed results. They channel 1966-68 era Beatles on two tracks, "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" and "Fade Together." The former, even if you exclude the title, shamelessly rehashes Revolver's "Eleanor Rigby," but comes as a welcome relief from the monotony preceding it. "Fade" rides a piano loop to the end and doesn't get much help from the lyricist's end of the table, as lines like "let's stay together" are repeated for some sort of smarmy self-assurance. (Of course, it's terrible to pull the Beatle card in a music review, but it's hard not to when a band's intentions seem so clear).

It's that kind of predictability on You Could that may validate much of Franz Ferdinand's criticism. The musicians are certainly talented, but they need to find something more than shifting alt-rock tastes to have any significant shelf life. Perhaps their well of ideas isn't completely dry. But if that's the case, they should have taken more time with You Could for surprise's sake. When it comes to mistakes, there's a difference between understanding and excusing.


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