Albums to watch

Always Ascending

Franz Ferdinand

Always Ascending

Fifth album from the Glasgow-based indie rock band and first since their change of line-up

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  1. 8.0 |   Mojo

    The alert and taut Always Ascending restores theband's original pop kinesis and then some. It is by far and away their most interesting offering since that debut album. Print edition only

  2. 8.0 |   Q

    Fizzes with the energy of a first album and lets Franz Ferdinand start all over again. Print edition only

  3. 8.0 |   The Irish Times

    Perhaps most tellingly, it’s the sound of a band having fun. They haven’t just survived the noughties and outlived many of their early noughties peers – on this evidence, they’re thriving

  4. 8.0 |   NME

    Franz’s trademark guitars are there, but not at the forefront. Instead synths are at the heart, alongside an irresistible dedication to having a good time
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  5. 8.0 |   The Quietus

    By no means perfect, and at points misjudged, but for the first time since the early 2000s we have a record that runs the gamut of what makes Franz Ferdinand great
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  6. 8.0 |   The Line Of Best Fit

    With Always Ascending’s sharp menace and mad genius, Franz have rescaled the mountain and made it back to the top
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  7. 8.0 |   Under The Radar

    Definitely an early contender for best of 2018 lists
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  8. 8.0 |   Earbuddy

    For a band that should be descending into obscurity, Franz Ferdinand is doing anything but
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  9. 8.0 |   music OMH

    It’s a joy to hear the band sound inspired again, and it’s good to see that, after all these years, Franz Ferdinand are still a force to be reckoned with
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  10. 7.0 |   PopMatters

    Despite some missteps, Always Ascending features enough excellent dance tracks, experimentation, and optimism to keep Franz Ferdinand fun and relevant a decade and a half into their career
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  11. 7.0 |   Exclaim

    The album's opening salvo works particularly well: the perpetual updraft of "Always Ascending" kicks things off on a high, leading smoothly into the kinetic, bass-led "Lazy Boy"
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  12. 7.0 |   Rolling Stone

    A return to form the band never really lost, and if the quiet bits drag, the wit's sharper than ever
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  13. 7.0 |   Uncut

    The result is quiet success. Print edition only

  14. 7.0 |   Drowned In Sound

    While Always Ascending is certainly a return to form in places, it certainly isn't perfect, particularly in its middle run
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  15. 7.0 |   Slant Magazine

    Always Ascending speaks to existential angst that prompts a grim outlook on the pursuit of happiness
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  16. 6.9 |   Pitchfork

    At its best, the fifth album from the UK indie-rock stalwarts is sleek, catchy, and enjoyably overwrought, the sound of a snappy hype band no longer burdened by relevance
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  17. 6.7 |   A.V. Club

    Always Ascending has its moments, even if it’s not the musical rebirth Franz Ferdinand sought
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  18. 6.0 |   The FT

    The band’s tight guitar geometry is given fresh velocity
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  19. 6.0 |   The Observer

    This evergreen Glasgow outfit have only tweaked their sound rather than rebooting it decisively, though, making their fifth album a restatement of their core art school pop principles
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  20. 6.0 |   DIY

    Maybe this new set-up just needs time to find their own MO?
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  21. 6.0 |   The Guardian

    The record climaxes with a duo of stomping disco tracks furnished with pleasingly dour melodies. They hammer home Always Ascending’s technical brilliance, but a visceral emotional connection remains elusive
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  22. 6.0 |   No Ripcord

    Like their past work, subpar filler holds the album back. It’s worth joining them for the climb, just know that it’s going to be an uneven ascent
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  23. 6.0 |   Record Collector

    There’s verve, vigour, and more energy from the slightly revised line-up too, but it isn’t groundbreaking
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  24. 6.0 |   The Independent

    Though sharp and sly, too often here there’s a shortfall of melodic potency, and an over-reliance on structures that are methodical rather than marvellous, torpedoed by their own cleverness
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  25. 6.0 |   The Skinny

    It's not the best work Franz Ferdinand have ever produced, but it's proof that they should embrace their intelligence and their quirks more and not try to be a standard indie band
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  26. 6.0 |   The Arts Desk

    Franz Ferdinand are carrying on as if nothing has happened. Always Ascending confirms that, whatever their line-up, no one does Franz Ferdinand like Franz Ferdinand
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  27. 6.0 |   Loud And Quiet

    Despite that sheen, ‘Always Ascending’ delivers on most fronts
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  28. 6.0 |   The Music

    Still delivering the kind of danceable, hook-laden indie rock they're known for
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  29. 5.0 |   Spectrum Culture

    Franz Ferdinand does enough to remain an intriguing band, expanding upon their polished precision by venturing into a few new directions, but they haven’t managed to make themselves sound vital
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  30. 5.0 |   Clash

    A frustratingly inconsistent return
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  31. 4.0 |   Crack

    The ‘normal songs + synthesisers – guitars = revolutionary’ equation doesn’t achieve the rebirth they needed
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