You Could Have It So Much Better,
indeed. On their sophomore outing, these Scots deliver on the implied promise of the disc's title -- and take some worthwhile artistic chances in the process. The quirky -- not to mention herky-jerky -- rhythms that made "Take Me Out" such a dance-floor favorite are still present here, most notably on the after-hours slink "The Outsiders." But rather than simply mimeographing the blueprint of their platinum-selling debut
, the quartet spend much of this disc furiously scribbling out new directions, with mostly high-energy results. That's the case on the old-school punk foray "This Boy" -- a short, spiky ditty that'd do the Buzzcocks proud -- as well as on the sneering title track, which singer Alex Kapranos turns into a sort of post-millennial take on the Stones' "Satisfaction," dishing out a laundry list of media-whore jibes. Adrenaline isn't the only additive on display here: In contrast to the comparatively wide-eyed worldview they exuded last time around, the foursome wax enthusiastic about all manner of substance intake, tipping their hats to ecstasy on the spangled "What You Meant" and sniffing around the world of opiates on the spiky, electronic "The Fallen." Nevertheless, the disc offers no sign of dulled senses, just opened horizons that range from the goth grandeur of "Evil and a Heathen" to the deceptively bouncy smut-fest "Do You Want To?" At once sexy, silly, and scandalous, You Could Have It So Much Better
touches all the right parts of the brain's pleasure center, and more than a few regions of the part that controls those spine chills.