Over the past couple of years Indie Rock has become infected with the desire to step out on the dance floor and start a raging party for all those kiddies that never liked techno and are sick of dancing to hip-hop. While such New York groups as The Liars, Interpol, and The Rapture have become the vanguard of the scene, their studio output has always been a bit disappointing. So leave it to a group of Scottish art students that have avant-garde tendencies, who have nothing to do with the pretentious nature of the Brooklyn scene, to give fans exactly what they’ve been waiting for, an album comparable to the classics that the scene name as its influences.
This first full length from Franz Ferdinand clocks in at just under 40 minutes, the perfect amount of time for a sweat drenching dance party that needs a little something to help reach its peak. The band take their sound from late ’70s and early ’80s artists like Gang of Four and Public Image Limited, but instead of just sounding like recycled garbage it can stand beside “Public Image,” or even Wire’s “Pink Flag.” This is because while the influence is rooted in the post-punk scene this album has a surprisingly immediate sound and is catered for our generation
The album begins with Alex Kapranos sounding like Leonard Cohen in the opener to “Jaqueline” then quickly the beat kicks in and you are drawn into the party Franz Ferdinand wishes to share. The clever nature of the band’s lyrics immediately comes out with Alex crooning that, “I’m so drunk I don’t mind if you kill me.” The Doors are thrown a nod with “Tell Her Tonight,” that asks the listener just what turns you on about a girl. The song is structured exactly like “Hello I Love You” with lyrics updated for the 21st century and a punk twang. Franz’s exception first single is next, “Take Me Out” pulls you with driving chords then breaks down much like Gang of Four’s “Like a Tourist.” It’s a song for anyone that has ever eyed someone that attracted them at a bar with lines like, “You know I’m here waiting here for you/ I know I won’t be leaving here with you.” The next track, “Matinee,” sounds like Dismemberment Plan with a heavy distorted guitar that backs up the dance beat of the drums as Alex reveals that. “I time every journey to bump into you accidentally.” “Come On Home” recalls lost love over haunting synthesizers and off-chords as Alex says, “I replace you pathetically/ but how I needed you / Let’s not forget we are so strong /And I can not forget.” Other tracks on this self-titled debut give hints of the clever word play and sexual androgyny of The Cure, ’80s David Bowie, and The Smiths.
Franz Ferdinand on first listening jumps right out at you at the control and intelligence the band commands over their tracks. Their sound doesn’t need to be gritty and keeps things interesting by changing up their flow to steer away from making every track sound the same. This is the album the Strokes or The Liars should have made with an urgency and heartbreak that professes there is no better cure for the depression of modern society than dancing until the point of passing out, and then dancing for three more hours.
Ross Whitsett can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.