The award-winning Scottish band Franz Ferdinand is releasing their greatest hits album, Hits to the Head, on March 11th. The release is chocked full of what has made the band so successful for twenty years, exuberant sonic pragmatism. This characteristic is represented by the band’s long-established goal to write classic pop songs that make the girls and boys dance. Over five studio albums, they have succeeded and, along the way, garnered platinum albums and numerous awards, including a 2004 Mercury Prize, an Ivor Novello award and a few BRIT awards.
Set with the task of giving an overview of their career for Hits to the Head, the band, as described by lead singer Alex Kapranos, stated, “…it was like picking out a setlist for a concert”, and what a list. There are twenty tracks with 18 existing tracks and two new songs to sweeten the twenty-track offering.
Hits to the Head offers up the biggest songs of their career, chart-toppers like “Darts of Pleasure, Take Me Out, This Fire, Ulysses” and numerous others that remind the listener why Franz Ferdinand is still cranking out songs twenty years after their creation. Much of this can be credited to the distinctive sonics signature the band has always created, melding Indie Rock, Post Punk Revival, Dance Punk, Dance Rock and Art Rock. They artfully create a musical world filled with down at the club antics and challenging romances, all the while accurately describing the excitement of pursuing love and experiences within that situation. The band also includes faves that don’t always make it on the top 10 lists, along with the big hits. Tracks like “Michael, Lucid Dream and Standing on the Horizon” are a sample of just some that satisfy that category.
Overall, the release is a fantastic walk through their discography with two slices of new sonics on offer with “Curious and Billy Goodbye”. “Curious” contains all the swagger that has always marked the band’s motif. The song is both dramatic and addictive. The eternal question addressed is the “will they,won’t they” of the two people in the narrative. The last track, “Billy Goodbye,” is a stomper and precisely what you would expect from Franz Ferdinand. The band members now entering their third-decade offer up a winning track representing their proprietary blend melded to an early 60’s Beatles influence, providing a kind of dissipated innocence. The two new tracks prove the band has lost none of their ability to write a catchy tune.
Hits to the Head does exactly what a “best of hits” compilation should do; it makes you want to pull out all your Franz Ferdinand albums or stack up a streaming playlist and give them another play. The release is an excellent overview of the band’s career for the uninitiated, providing a guided tour of the last two decades. It is a convenient and impressive collection of stellar tracks for fans.