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July 24, 2024

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Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand (Domino Recording Co.)

By: Brad Halverson

Were these guys overhyped or something? Seems like I heard about 'em ages ago, but Lord knows I have trouble paying attention to that kind of thing. It seems like the British music press mentioned something about these guys, but who knows? But hey, if that's the case, then BELIEVE THE HYPE! Unless of course the hype advised to you believe that these guys were going to save rock music (that sure worked out for the Vines, didn't it?) then you should probably DISREGARD THE HYPE instead. But damn is this a good record. Here's the formula; The Strokes make great music but some people complain that they're purposefully under-produce. Disco music on the other hand, can be extremely entertaining if you're in the right mood, but is entirely overproduced (by 70's standards anyway) and is inescapably dumb. So what would happen if some diligent band of Scottish gents (do they have gents in Scotland?) got together and said, "Hey guys! Let's play music that sounds kind of like The Strokes, but instead of just ripping them off like everyone else, let's add Disco to the mix! And screw synthesizers; we'll play them crazy disco beats with our guitars! Then we'll polish it up real nice but show enough restraint to keep things sounding organic! It'll rock!" And rock it does. So what's the album about exactly? Well, there's a lot of dancing of course. Plus there's a lot of commentary on the clumsy flirtation activities that inhabit our daily lives (like timing your outings to "accidentally" bump into the object of your smitteness which is something I've never done that because I'm not a pathetic freak.) So most of the lyrics are kind of silly, and there aren't any great social commentaries here, but it fits the tone of he music perfectly. The music itself sounds perfect. Literally, every note is in the right place, yet this still sounds like it could be some garage band. Many of the songs seem to defy traditional structure, particularly the more disco flavored tracks like "tell her tonight" and even the songs that strike you as more traditional rock music on first listen ("darts of pleasure" and "Come on Home") reveal themselves to be weird little chunks of pop song craft that deserve credit for being entirely original even if the band is harvesting decades of pop music for inspiration. "The Dark of the Matinee" is catchy in that ever elusive way the seems to entirely escape the gaze of top 40 radio at the moment, and "Take Me Out" is flat-out one of the best songs I've heard all year. Plus there's a friggin gay love song ("Michael") that's performed by a bunch of evidentially straight guys, and it fits in just fine. Good stuff. The fact that this band sounds like nobody else is enough to warrant some attention. The fact that they manage to sound this original and consistently great is something to be respected. Hopefully the good folks at Spin and their ilk will keep their greasy mitts off these guys and let them develop outside the glaring influence of hype. Stupid music journalists--I hate them so much--
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