Franz Ferdinand: Blood

The problem with Blood is that it functions much more effectively as a companion to Tonight: Franz Ferdinand than as its own work.

Franz Ferdinand


Contributors: Danny Carey
Label: Sony
UK Release Date: 2009-06-01
US Release Date: 2009-06-02
Artist website

The question that can't help but come to mind when trying to evaluate Franz Ferdinand's so-called "second album of 2009" is this: Why? Why re-release a five-month-old pseudo-remix album on its own when these versions of songs from third album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand have been kicking around as long as the album proper? Why market it as a new album when the band itself didn't play a single new note in getting it created? Why ruin the exclusive nature of the treat that the Franz's biggest fans got when they decided to spring for one of the multi-disc versions of the album when it was released?

Part of the answer may lie in the content of Tonight: Franz Ferdinand -- namely, despite a few new twists and turns with the instrumentation, despite its description as a "concept album", and despite the rumors of a new, dub-oriented sound from the band, Tonight still sounds remarkably like Franz Ferdinand. Or, at least, it sounds like what we think of when we think of Franz Ferdinand. It's like looking at old photos of the first time you danced to "Take Me Out" and "Dark of the Matinée", an experience that brings on the rush of the good times, even if you had remembered them a bit different before you saw the pictures. For all of the advance hype of new directions and new sounds, we certainly weren't going to confuse anything on Tonight with, oh, Massive Attack.

Blood, then, was the counterpoint, as producer Danny Carey's opportunity to go ahead and do what he likes with the songs that would eventually comprise Tonight. It gave the true fans a chance to see what kind of music the band was experimenting with, even if it wasn't entirely reflected on the album proper. One can only surmise that this knowledge was something that the band, or the label, or the producer, or someone wanted to convey to a larger audience, hence, the release of the bonus disc as standalone.

The main problem with this release, then, is that it functions much more effectively as a companion to Tonight than as its own work. These are dub experiments that largely sound like experiments; granted, they're experiments concocted by someone who knows what he's doing, but they're still experiments. The disc starts off on a promising note with a rendition of "What She Came For", here called "Feel the Pressure", which is completely overhauled from the deep, bassy, hip-hop groove to the vocal production which makes the song sound much more like a singular statement from Alex Kapranos than the group shoutalong of the original.

From there on out, though, there are lots of ideas but very few pieces that actually sound like songs. "Die On the Floor" impresses with a very dance-ready beat and some nifty electronics, but it doesn't do nearly enough to justify its six-and-a-half minutes. "Katherine Hit Me", something of a mashup of "Katherine Kiss Me" and "No You Girls", pulls off the dub thing just fine, with lots of ghostly noises and a heavy emphasis on the bass rhythm, but it's hard not to wish you were just listening to the aforementioned hit single rather than this shadow of an imposter. And then there's "Feel the Envy", a rework of "Send Him Away" languishing toward the end of the disc, which uses some nifty studio trickery to create a pressure-shifting effect in the ears of the listener, but is more interesting as a curiosity than as a repeatable piece of music.

The disc closes with the completist-bait of "Be Afraid", a cutting-room-floor spaced-out dub version of "Dream Again" that leaves very little impression at all. Of course, what should we expect of an unreleased track from an album whose only original purpose was to exist as the companion to another album? At this point we're talking about the toss-offs of a half-realized experiment anyway, which is exactly what the track sounds like.

Really, the only audience for Blood is the utter completist who's going to need "Be Afraid" or the latecoming devotee who missed out on Blood as a pack-in with Tonight. It's hard to imagine either group coming away from their purchase anything close to satisfied.


Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.