History buffs will recall that the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand marked the beginning of World War I. However, listeners who have recently heard the debut album by the Scottish band taking the same name will tell you Franz Ferdinand is a band that has released eleven songs complete with huge choruses, infectious guitar hooks, and forty minutes of ass-shaking good times.
Things get started with “Jacqueline,” which has lead singer Alex Kapronos lightly singing over acoustic guitar just prior to a bass menacingly kicking in and the entire band launching into an anthemic assault. The notion of ripping off your pinstripe suit and hitting the clubs in decadent partying is the mood for the remainder of the album as the chorus of “It’s always better on holiday / So much better on holiday / That’s why we only work when we need the money” will keep your foot tapping during long hours in the cubicle.
“Take Me Out” is an instant classic that starts as a laid back proposition to keep someone company until a minute into the song it totally changes pace with guitars and drums that would fit in any dancehall in the land. Even the most reserved bar hoppers are sure to have their hands above their heads as the emotion builds to a point where you can’t tell if Kapronos is on his knees begging for a shot or has completely buckled under the pressure and has resorted to self-loathing.
The band keeps welcoming the listener into their world of celebration with the “The Dark of the Matinee” which goes from the calm strumming and singing of being too cool for the scene before breaking into a frenetic chorus with swirling guitars and drums. It segues into the dark and brooding “Auf Achse” that falls somewhere in between an obsessive stalker or one that is not taking kindly to the idea they have just been dumped.
“This Fire” is sure to be a concert favorite with the band shouting out “We’re gonna burn this city!” and “Darts of Pleasure” (mp3) is an example of how the combination of driving dance rhythms and clever world play are going to be the trademark of Franz Ferdinand. “Michael” is flush with erotic lyrics and drumming. The line “So sexy / I’m sexy / So come and dance with me Michael” has the protagonist licking his lips for a chance to get closer to some of the boys moving on the dance floor.
Franz Ferdinand has released as exciting and promising a debut as you’re likely to hear in 2004. These are songs that are going to be in your head when you wake up, when you’re at work, and when you’re going out on a Saturday night. They are going to have you tapping your foot and shaking your ass and hitting the Play button over and over again. It’s at times derivative, sure. But that’s beside the point. You’ve got eleven songs that are going to increase your heart rate and make you turn up the volume belting out the lyrics. And you can’t really ask for more than that.