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Franz Ferdinand has strong, innovative debut

Johnny Mospan | Thursday, September 30, 2004

As the indie music scene grows, Franz Ferdinand takes one giant step forward out of oblivion and into the limelight with its self-titled debut album. This Glasgow rock group, named after the Archduke whose assassination set World War I in motion, places its career into motion with a combination of edgy rock-pop and innovation that presents a fast-forward version of the 80s. The band was formed in 2001 when bassist Bob Hardy, guitarist Nick McCarthy and singer/guitarist Alex Kapranos met their future drummer Paul Thomson. After rehearsing and holding numerous parties for the Glasgow art-music scene, word of mouth spread about this quartet until they were signed to Domino Record Co. in the summer of 2003. A few months later it released the EP “Darts of Pleasure,” and then followed by releasing “Franz Ferdinand” in March 2004.”Franz Ferdinand” starts off softly and slowly with “Jacqueline,” almost trying to lull its listeners in. However, a minute later the drumbeat starts, a groove can be heard for practically the rest of the album. By the end of “Jacqueline,” you are already chanting “I’m alive” with Kapranos and know the musical liberation that is Franz Ferdinand. The album continues with “Tell Her Tonight,” emitting a tone of cheesy synthesizer mixed with indie punk-pop that is quite the deviation from the norm. Following these two catchy songs is the radio smash, “Take Me Out.” At first, this song revisits “Last Nite” by the Strokes, but it quickly becomes apparent that this similarity is only slight, as Franz Ferdinand perfects the style that the Strokes attempted to implement. This song stands out as a singable and bouncy gem on an album full of such innovative tunes.The album tries to slow things down with “Matinee,” although finds itself unable to do as such with the persistence of an underlying drumbeat and bass line which screams out British pop. “Franz Ferdinand” continues with three decent melodies, until it reaches the spectacular “Darts of Pleasure.” This tune is entirely captivating and climactic for the album, capped off by Kapronos’s bizarre yet ingenious German cry “Ich heisse Super Fantastisch.” After finishing this song, you feel the urge to go back and place it on repeat. And yet, with three songs left, you would be doing yourself an enormous disservice. Following “Darts of Pleasure” is “Michael,” and it does not let down the adrenaline rush stemming from before. Its comical lyrics (“Michael / you’re the boy with all the leather hips / sticky hair, sticky hips, stubble on my sticky lips”) release a homosexual vibe, and yet the music does not permit you to believe your deduction. Finally, “Come on Home” follows and segues nicely into the last song “40 Feet.” This track is as close to a wind-down song as one can find on the album, which makes its placement ideal. Despite its difference in style, the tempo still stays true to the Franz Ferdinand norm, once again yielding a successful song.Yes, every song on this album achieves some sort of fame, which may be the downfall to the album, if any can be formulated. After listening to any given tune, it gets stuck in your head, until you go onto the next one. There is no growth or progression in “Franz Ferdinand,” as each song could plausibly be on the radio. Above all, however, this album is fantastic. As Kapronos utters in “Darts of Pleasure,” perhaps attempting to make a statement of the band, “You are the latest contender / You are the one to remember.” Yes, Franz Ferdinand, you are the one to remember.