LONDON (Reuters) - Scottish indie rockers Franz Ferdinand's new record "Tonight" hits the shelves on Monday to mixed reviews of what the band agrees is a shift toward synthesizers and dance pop.
"There's a little bit more synthesizer, a little bit more bass, but it's really Franz Ferdinand," lead singer Alex Kapranos told Reuters before a gig featuring the new music at a record store in central London.
Nick McCarthy, guitarist and keyboard player, added: "It's got quite a heavy bass to it, it's a very dancy record I think. Very warm and dancy.
"It's definitely different from the other two records as well. We had to move on to keep ourselves excited."
Critics agree that, while not a total departure from the band's signature sound, "Tonight" is more synth-heavy than their first two albums -- 2004's "Franz Ferdinand" and the 2005 follow-up "You Could Have It So Much Better."
"Tonight is fine, but will you still love them tomorrow?" asked The Observer weekly's Dorian Lynskey in a three-out-of-five star review.
Kapranos said "Tonight" was not written as a concept album, but was based around a single idea.
"When we were putting the songs together, Paul our drummer noticed that there was this night-time theme to all the songs.
"We wanted to give the album the dynamic of a night out, so it starts off with the moments that you're psyching yourself up ... the events through the night coming to a climax and then coming down from that point for the last couple of songs."
Sales of "Tonight", the first big British album release of the year on the independent Domino label, will give music executives an early taste of what is in store.
Album sales fell 3.2 percent in 2008, a smaller than expected decline and stronger than the double-digit drop in the key U.S. market last year. Singles, boosted by digital downloads, jumped 33 percent in Britain.
Kapranos said the music industry tended to go through cycles where singles or albums were in the ascendancy.
"At the moment it seems that the single is a very popular idea, but I like to think of bands creating albums, a collection of songs, reflecting where they are artistically ... and being able to present a more complete piece of work than just a one-off song."
"Tonight" kicks off a year in which the industry's main hopes will lie with blockbuster releases like Bruce Springsteen's "Working on a Dream," U2's "No Line on the Horizon," 50 Cent ("Before I Self Destruct") and Eminem ("Relapse").
In Britain, Lily Allen releases her second album "It's Not Me, It's You" and Robbie Williams, formerly of Take That, is expected to complete his long-delayed record.
Writing by Mike Collett-White, editing by Paul Casciato