When Alex Kapranos croons “we will soon be rotten / we will not be forgotten / half remembered rumours of the old,” on head-nodding beat group fruit metaphor Fresh Strawberries, it’s time to reflect that the four-year gap between 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand and this record might have seen Glasgow’s once-deified post-punk revivalists call a halt to proceedings.
Franz Ferdinand: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
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Kapranos’ stated mission was to make music for girls to dance to, but the last time they did that to genuinely universal effect was with 2005’s Do You Want To.
If that’s still their main aim, then there was every reason for the quartet to stay together and record this fourth album. Frankly, it’s the return to form even die-hard fans may have feared they would never see, and there are many reasons for women and men to get to their feet, not least the better of the two pre-release teaser tracks Love Illumination, which fuses stomping glam rhythms, a coruscating Dr Feelgood guitar riff and a Telstar-recalling organ part.
Every song is memorable and immediate, and seems to have cast off the need to pay homage to the post-punk crowd who inspired Take Me Out. Stand On The Horizon is majestic 1980s sophistifunk placed midway between Talking Heads and Copacabana. Bullet and Treason! Animals are raw garage punk, and Right Action sounds closest to their old style while dragging in one of the least resistible choruses they’ve written in years. If the closing Goodbye Lovers And Friends is the arch sign-off it sounds like, they can rest assured their mission is finally complete.
Download this: Love Illumination, Stand On The Horizon
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros: Gentlemen Of The Road
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Still most renowned for Home, their ubiquitous hit of a couple of years ago, bandleader Alex Ebert’s Los Angeles indie-folk orchestra Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros haven’t managed to equal it in this expansive and richly textured new album. There are moments of wonder here, among them the choral-gospel-meets-Scott Walker epic Better Days, the clashing old Hollywood symphony of Life Is Hard and a sublime sonic tribute to both Leonard Cohen and Lee Hazlewood in They Were Wrong, but the trumpet-blaring rag of Let’s Get High signals a tendency to buy too wholeheartedly into Californian stoner-rock. DP
Download this: Life Is Hard, They Were Wrong
Newton Faulkner: Studio Zoo
Ugly Truth, £14.99
Recorded almost entirely on his own in his home studio and streamed live on the internet during the process, Newton Faulkner’s fourth studio album focuses in a more intimate manner on the talents which make him an idol to every gap year soul-searcher in the land. Light but skilfully strummed acoustic guitar is a strong feature, as is his soft lullaby on more roundly satisfying Treading Water and Don’t Make Me Go There. Yet an overpowering wave of insipid lyrical cliché washes through tracks like Waiting On You and Indecisive’s hip-hop rhythm as it reminds us “you can’t die from a broken heart / but breathing in and out gets hard,” taking any sense of emotional connection. DP
Download this: Don’t Make Me Go There
Anita Wardell: The Road
Specific Jazz SPEC017, £13.99
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This English jazz singer may have a beautiful, clear and pure voice but there is nothing clear and straightforward about how she applies it to songs – and if you have an aversion to scat and/or songs in which the famous melody isn’t even heard once at the start of the tune, then this CD ain’t for you. The eclectic selection of tunes ranges from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Surrey With The Fringe On Top – which seems to be having a “moment” with jazzers just now – to Stevie Wonder’s Superwoman. An especially buoyant Without A Song and a couple of Latin numbers are highlights. Alison Kerr
Download this: Without A Song
The Celtic Fiddle Festival: Live In Brittany
Loftus Music LM006, £13.99
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A new album from the ever-evolving international amalgam – this time comprised of three fleet-fingered francophones, including Breton Christian Lemaitre, joined by American Irishman Kevin Burke. That’s three top fiddlers and one guitarist – and they can certainly play.
There is one set of well-known Irish reels, but the dozen tracks tend to roam the spectrum of Quebecois, Breton and French tunes, as in the dynamic change of tone and rhythm in the penultimate La Tuque Bleue before the sweet closure of the Valse Du Chef De Gare. Norman Chalmers
Download this: Le Colporteur/Gigue De Montreal
Joseph Haydn: String Quartets, Opus 33, Russian Hyperion
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How does a composer make money when he’s employed full-time as a resident musician? For Haydn, the trick was to create fashionable music and sell what were in effect pre-publication manuscript copies to the public.
And when it came to actually printing his music, Haydn adopted the simple tactic of signing contracts for near-simultaneous publications with a different publisher in each country. As a result, however, these six sets of string quartets appear in their printed versions with varying tempi; in some cases, even the order of movements changes.
None of this affects the charm and sense of fun that exudes from the works, played with skill by the London Haydn Quartet, a lightheartedness that extended to the quartets being given nicknames such as “The Bird” and even “How do you do?” Jolly summer listening. Alexander Bryce
Download this: No 2 in E Flat major, ‘The Joke’