Always Ascending

Franz Ferdinand - Always Ascending
Critic Score
Based on 27 reviews
2018 Ratings: #629 / 760
User Score
Based on 242 ratings
2018 Ratings: #923
February 9, 2018 / Release Date
LP / Format
Domino / Label
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The Line of Best Fit

It may have been more of a rollercoaster than a straight climb but, with Always Ascending’s sharp menace and mad genius, Franz have rescaled the mountain and made it back to the top.

Under The Radar

The only reason Always Ascending does not rate a perfect 10 is because of a couple of David's amongst the Goliaths. Two slower, more contemplative tracks that don't work as well, but don't qualify as clunkers either. Always Ascending is definitely an early contender for best of 2018 lists.

‘Always Ascending’ is, everywhere you look, a record driven by vim, vigour and ideas, and plenty of Kapranos’ idiosyncratic way with a lyric.
The Telegraph

Always Ascending is every bit as smart and dynamic as their acclaimed debut, but familiarity has dampened its dramatic impact.


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.

Slant Magazine

Always Ascending may only serve as an incremental progression for Franz Ferdinand, but in departing from their upbeat romps in favor of a more nuanced, philosophical approach, Kapranos and company have reinvigorated their music by reaching for higher ground.

Drowned in Sound
Overall, it's a pleasant feeling to have a good Franz Ferdinand record again, like a warm hug reminding one of a simpler time only slightly bastardised by ten years of regressive politics and is seemingly inspiring many of these bands to redress the balance.

If 2013's Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action felt archetypical of the Franz Ferdinand sound, this proves a sturdy new take, if one that has yet to be fully realized.

Rolling Stone
It's a return to form the band never really lost, and if the quiet bits drag, the wit's sharper than ever.

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.

The return of synths and disco-ish atmospherics serves, unsurprisingly, to obscure the fact that a nontrivial reinvention still eludes them. But to their credit, Franz Ferdinand are persistently resourceful, and in their theatrical suave and helter-skelter choruses there lingers an obvious knack for starting fires armed only with indie-pop panache.
A.V. Club

Always Ascending has its moments, even if it’s not the musical rebirth Franz Ferdinand sought.

The Skinny

Always Ascending thrives when the band indulge their sense of fun – 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. They’re too good for that.

Loud and Quiet
An album that’s solid if unspectacular, it does just enough to make you forget that those skinny jeans don’t fit any more (if they ever really did), those snake-hips are love handles, and that you weren’t really a proper indie band unless at least one of you had proper cheekbones.
The Independent

Overall, Always Ascending offers an intelligent survey of our era’s pervasive world of appearances, but sometimes fails to heed its own warnings. 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.

None of this feels enough to truly deserve that futuristic tag, but maybe this new set-up just needs time to find their own MO? In the meantime, we’ve got another great single to add to that hypothetical greatest hits.
The Guardian
It’s a collection of coolly masterful tracks that tend to feel clever rather than endearing.

With its mix of intriguing sounds and occasionally underwhelming songwriting, Always Ascending feels more like a first effort than the band's actual debut did. As it stands, it's a somewhat shaky but promising start for the revamped Franz Ferdinand.

The Observer
Dancing, it seems, is more important than ever to this guitar band.
No Ripcord
Despite the new direction ... they run into the same old problems. 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.

This album isn’t for the three-minute indie song lovers, more those willing to wander just outside their comfort zone.

Northern Transmissions

While Always Ascending is often enjoyable, it’s not quite enough to lift Franz Ferdinand out of their late-career malaise.

Spectrum Culture

With Always Ascending, 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.

Crack Magazine

Always Ascending is a middling effort that seems to have suffered from the departure of the band’s founding guitarist Nick McCarthy, and the ‘normal songs + synthesisers – guitars = revolutionary’ equation doesn’t achieve the rebirth they needed.

I could've wanked off my weenie twoce instead of listening to this
"Always Ascending" está lejos de ser un fracaso. No obstante, es sin lugar a dudas la pieza más débil, tanto lírica como musicalmente, que el ahora quinteto ha desarrollado. Aún cuando existan una serie de puntos que destaquen positivamente al álbum, su mayor flaqueza radica en su incapacidad de ser recordado. Puede ser que sea el producto de una banda sin una pieza fundamental entre sus filas, como el periodo de transición de un grupo ... read more
One could easily come to a conclusion that this is merely a work from a savvy, seasoned group of musicians who have lost some steam. The way the modern music world tends to judge new works through one-line summaries and relation to the past, that’s a quip that could effortlessly and dangerously label this album for years until it isn’t remembered anymore. It’s dangerous because that conclusion is too much of a stretch about the actual musicians and too vague with little ... read more
So safe and familiar that it almost falls into self-parody, most evident on "The Academy Award", a track that sounds like it could have been written by a band who just heard "The Dark of the Matinee" for the first time.
Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh... it's aight.

EDIT: With some time and some closer listens, I think this album, despite some uninspired lyrics, is pretty good fun, with some really good production backing it.

Favorite Tracks: Always Ascending, Feel The Love Go, Slow Don't Kill Me Slow, Glimpse Of Love

Least Favorite Track(s): Lazy Boy
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Added on: October 25, 2017