Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand

[Domino; 2004]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: art punk, post-punk, German cabaret
Others: The Libertines, The Strokes, Gang of Four, Hot Hot Heat

By now you've heard of Franz Ferdinand and the new Scottish Gentry. Maybe you've been a little skeptical of them based on the overstated and under-realistic tags slapped on them by the press. Let's forget about saving rock n' roll and the Glasgow art-school pedigree. This is an album for girls to dance to. That is of course the sole reason why vocalist/guitarist Alex Kapranos started Franz Ferdinand in the first place. And Franz Ferdinand has created a very enjoyable record for girls and boys (named Michael) to dance to. There are enough hooks, attention to the rhythm section, and variation in style that most anyone with a pulse will be able to find at least something they like here.

Album opener "Jacquelin" begins innocently enough, with a softly strummed acoustic intro; but it's soon trampled by its driving bassline and their best impression of a classic surf guitar riff. The self-depreciation anthem "Take Me Out" and its funky pulsing beat also does its best to catch the listener off-guard, after a rather subdued Strokes-sounding intro. Other album standouts include the cool swagger of closer "40 Feet" and the varied beauty of Kapranos vocal delivery on "Darts of Pleasure." The effortless change between smooth and edgier vocals of Kapranos is a trend throughout the record -- from track-to-track or sometimes within a track itself.

Where the album stumbles is in its inconsistency, with some rather uninteresting filler that doesn't do much but flesh out the album. "Michael" and "This Fire," for example, are disappointing efforts when compared to stronger tracks like "Shopping for Blood" from their debut EP. You just know that Franz Ferdinand has more in them, something in reserve. And that thought is exciting in itself, since overall this is a pleasing effort. The band just needs to stay focused on what is important and not take themselves too seriously. How does one intend to survive and keep the girls dancing anyhow, with the embarrassment of praise and hyperbole surrounding them up to this point?

1. Jacquelin
2. Tell Her Tonight
3. Take Me Out
4. The Dark of the Matinee
5. Auf Achse
6. Cheating on You
7. This Fire
8. Darts of Pleasure
9. Michael
10. Come on Home
11. 40'

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