In the wake of Travis and Coldplay, there was seemingly an influx of earnest young men with a whole catalogue of early Radiohead soundalikes. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing – Turin Brakes have produced two excellent albums for example – but too often familiarity breeds contempt, as Longview have discovered.
Which is where Glasgow’s Franz Ferdinand come in. The fact that they’ve named themselves after the Archduke whose assassination prompted World War I may give you a clue that they’re a bit different from the norm. Their debut album takes the best parts of The Strokes, The Rapture and Pulp and mixes it together with that indefinable ingredient to produce some of the best tunes you’ll hear all year.
They’ve already been on the cover of the NME under the heading “The best band in Britain,” which will in itself be reason enough for some to ignore them. That would be a huge mistake however. This time, the hype can be justified – if this album is anything to go by, then Franz Ferdinand really will be "Your New Favourite Band" pretty soon.
The single Take Me Out is a fine example. It starts off as a seemingly typical Strokes/Foo Fighters hybrid until, after about a minute, it slows down and a mighty guitar riff rips through the speaker. Suddenly the song is transformed into a stomping funk number and becomes one of the most infectious singles of the year.
This type of invention is all over the album. Whether it’s namechecking Terry Wogan in Matinee or the deliciously exuberant chorus of “I’m cheating on you – yeah!” in Cheating On You, each song grabs the listener’s attention and refuses to let go. Opening track Jacqueline for example, begins as a lounge ballad and builds up and up into a pure adrenaline rush.
Darts Of Pleasure is another stand out – it’s the most magnificently sleazy come-hither since Jarvis Cocker last raised an eyebrow, as evidenced by the way that lead singer Alex Kapranos croons “we’ll have fantastic passion”. Brilliantly, and for no particular reason, the song ends with a German chant of “Ich heisse Superfantastisch”. It makes no sense at all but it sounds exhilarating.
Unusually for a debut album there isn’t a weak track here and there’s a massive air of self-confidence permeating proceedings. As indeed there should be – Franz Ferdinand are going to be absolutely huge and have already produced what will turn out to be one of the albums of 2004. Buy it now and have your faith in British music restored.