know I won’t be leaving here with you,” sings Alex Kaprano. What? Think again, mate. You and your band are so leaving here with us. Okay, listen up people. Yes, you might think that we have had more than our little brains can handle of indie-synth-new wave-electro-rock. But hold your fire, cause there’s a new battalion arranging itself on the Scottish borders. And they are buttoning their oh-so-snug single breasted black blazers and polishing their pointy-toed boots in anticipating of leading the art rock revolution straight to the front of the hype queue.
Don’t worry, these guys are different than all the NYC retro-hype-playas we’ve been choking back since last year. They don’t update their sound with fancy dance DFA re-mixes (The Rapture), they don’t get lost in Joy Division’s left-over dry-ice miasma (Interpol) and they are not so fucking cool they forgot how to make a new record (The Strokes). Nope, none of that crap. Franz Ferdinand are a quartet of Glaswegian art students (a lifestyle choice right up there with male florist guaranteed to get you a head-kicking from any wee hard man in that town) who sat down one day and said “Hey. You know what genre of music sounds really fucking cool? Late 70s rock. Let’s have a band who plays that music.” And that is the beauty of these rock thistles. They take that sound and stick to it. Short of getting into a time portal and hurling yourself back to the late 70s, this is the closest you will get that sound in 2004.
The first track, ‘Jacqueline’, opens with a spoken word introduction to a girl who works in an office is reminiscent of Jarvis Cocker in his Pulp heyday, but that all stops after 40 seconds when the bass throbs in, the guitars rev up and it gets kinda Dick Dale surf-rock on our asses, even down to the stunning grasp of the obvious lyric of “It’s always better on holiday”. And while the lyrical content never veers far from chicks or young people’s problems, the music! Oh, the music! Just leaps, bounds and bounces all around with a simple joy that’s ready to burst forth from its form-fitting, hip-hugger trousers. Not to imply the lyrics aren’t cunning, and by being delivered in a fantastically dour, yet deeply chic tone, it just makes everything seem so…continental. In fact ‘Darts Of Pleasure’, with its crotch-thrust guitar mewl, dry humping bassline and slightly pervy lyrics masquerading as romantic (“You can feel my lips undress your eyes”) is a sweet piss-take of late night European soft-corn TV films right down to its ending of a randomly rousing German chorus of "Ich heisse superfantastiche!"
The Franz lads serve up one sonic tonic after another. ‘Cheating On You’’s rat-ta-tat drums groove in perfect synch with the head jutting guitar growl and giving an ideal balance to the song’s lyrical content: “I’m cheating on you, your cheating on me, its only love, so who cares? Let’s dance!” ‘Take Me Out’s shimmering cymbals lull us into a false sense of hope that’s quickly shattered by staccato-spaced pleadings of an unrequited crush. And with the punched-up, hollowed-out sound of their de rigour homoerotic ode to the beautiful boy on the school disco’s beautiful dance floor ‘Michael’, and our discrete visit to the damp lustful fantasy world found only in ‘The Dark Of The Matinee’, these guys don’t put a 4/4 beat, a digital delay effect, never mind a perfectly coifed hair, wrong.
So consider yourself warned. All enemies of the new art rock revolution – prepare to die.
Reviewed by: Lisa Oliver
Reviewed on: 2004-02-18