Franz Ferdinand: Franz Ferdinand
Lie back, close your eyes, and think of England, was the queen's famous advice to young brides. But your main squeeze is probably off suppressing the Zulus or hurling grenades at Hapsburgs or playing on the John Peel show, so fuck Her Majesty, because you need to do the exact opposite if you're going to get anything at all from this Franz Ferdinand record. To begin with, you need to ignore what the English have to say about these Glaswegian upstarts ("They will be among the most important bands of their generation," asserts NME). In fact, from now on, just to be on the safe side, ignore anything the British have to say about anything, ever. Kill the stereo and make your way to a crowded club where Franz Ferdinand's record surges from battered PA stacks and their prim funk becomes directionless throb, the lyrics a pink noise behind your head. Dance-punk isn't actually about dancing, after all; it's less about listening than absorbing over one's shoulder. And being somewhere you can dance (but don't) is the freedom to hear it in its naked environs.
Franz Ferdinand gets compared with the Strokes and Interpol, but when you remember that the eighth-note was invented in 1954, the similarities evaporate. If Interpol are the sullen wallflowers at the high school dance and the Strokes are in the parking lot swilling maple syrup, then Franz Ferdinand are the conventionally dressed weirdos sashaying to Golden Earring under the rented disco ball while onlookers get the white man's overbite. "Take Me Out" is like the Fire Engines covering "Trampled Under Foot," from the Led Zep song's one-stomp bass drop to the same squirrelly guitar figure (with sweet mash-up possibilities). Singer Alex Kapranos channels Iggy's baritone espressivo by way of Julian Cope on the album's other groovy single, "Darts of Pleasure." As the fuses begin to blow, he patiently explains in German (the language of explication) that his name is "Superfantastic" and that he drinks the Bavarian equivalent of Lancers with lox (apparently he 'drinks' the lox as well). As if lines like "We'll have fantastic passion/You can feel my lips undress your eyes" didn't sound like poorly translated German already. I'll take it over poorly translated British any day.
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