FRANZ FERDINAND Franz Ferdinand (2004 UK 11-track CD album including the singles Darts Of Pleasure Take Me Out Matinee & Michael with lyric / picture sleeve WIGCD136)
Touted as being the first great album of 2004, Franz Ferdinand's eponymous debut may be the secret weapon that'll kick-start the British fight against the White Strokes. Though they have a reputation as being bohemian art-obsessed dilettantes, they're at the vanguard of the Art Wave scene, and possess a fierce determination to change the face of modern music--their twin aims: to bring back cerebral rock that makes you want to dance, and to bring frontline music back home (witness exclusively British lyrics such as "I'm on BBC 2 now; telling Terry Wogan how I made it"). So what weapons do these four skinny lads engage to galvanise the UK music scene? Unsurprisingly, they roll out the big guns of Britpop past. "Cheating on You" bounces like early Blur
; "Come on Home" soars like pre-OK Computer Radiohead
; "Michael" flirts with Suede
-esque sexual androgyny; and "Matinee" sleazes onto you like Pulp
at their most lascivious.
Though they draw on the past, they do so wisely, injecting voguish angular 80s synth-pop with old-fashioned heart and soul. Their debut embraces the experimental, featuring time-signature changes and mid-song tempo drops, yet its solidity prevents it from consignment to the gratuitously quirky bin. If you feel that the Rapture lack a sense of drama and Interpol lack joy and energy, then Franz Ferdinand are the boys for you. Their stated ambition is to erase the Archduke Franz Ferdinand from the annals of history and replace him in the collective consciousness with themselves. Archduke who? --Paul Eisinger