When I first heard Franz Ferdinand, it was the Darts of Pleasure single released last year, I wasn’t impressed with them and they were in my eyes (at the time) consigned to the ages as being average at best. Roll on late 2003, and Franz Ferdinand were back again with the promo video Take Me Out (Single released 12th January 2004) and I was impressed! The mediocre song which was Darts of Pleasure was long forgotten in favour of this amazing fusion of Rock and Pop (not too dissimilar to say The Strokes') if only Take Me Out was released first!
The album itself is based heavily on a cross between 80's rythmo-pop and rock, influencing themselves heavily by bands like Joy Division and Gang of Four and more recently The Strokes, British Sea Power and to a lesser extent The Fall and somewhere deep inside there is a little bit of The Coral.
The opening song, Jacqueline offers up not only British Sea Power style angular guitars throughout but also catchy, cheery lyrics which leave me craving for my holidays, and like Take Me Out humming along to it at any opportunity.
Tell Her Tonight opens with a 70s "New Yoike" disco beat, and retains this same beat but using different instruments for each section of the song, for instance bass is used mainly on the chorus, there is a definite 80s presence here despite the 70s disco beginnings.
Take Me Out as mentioned earlier is one of the best tracks on the album, it has amazingly catchy backing beat combined with memorable lyrics. It really achieves the "Footstomping Rock and pop" that the band wanted from the album.
The Dark of the Matinee again has some excellent guitar work, and an amazing chorus, as well as bizarre lyrics about Terry Wogan and a chat show featuring the band, if it wasn't for the next track it would be the best on the album. Auf Acshe however is THE track of the album, it really is quite stunning, despite not having all the catchy qualities we've seen so far, apart from the backing beat again which is a eerie stereotypical "UFO Noise" and a piano backing track. In Stark contrast to the eerie qualities of Auf Asche Cheating on You lays back into the angular guitar riffs with a definite lo-fi kick to it rather like the strokes. Fire in Me is like if the strokes and pulp (circa 1991) made a song together, again with lo-fi riffs like in Cheating on you but this time combined with Jarvis-esq songmanship.
After this comes slight disappointment in my opinion, Darts of Pleasure is ok, but one of the worst tracks on the album if not the worst, while still being a quality song in its own right, it was just placed badly as it was after a plethora of excellent songs (Take Me Out, The Dark of the Matinee, Auf Achse etc.) the album seems to dip slightly at this point of the album, if only slightly, the lull in the album continues with Michael. But is recovered quickly by the two final tracks on the album, Come on Home which again goes back to the Take me out style with a slightly mellowed out chorus which sounds a little Coralish. The final track is 40ft, which like Come on Home could have come straight off The Coral's Magic and Medicine with its pumping guitars way back in the mix which suddenly appear from nowhere, a fitting end to an excellent album.
Despite the clichés, Franz Ferdinand are one to watch this year, I can only see them going from strength to strength, because despite it being so early on into the year already Franz Ferdinand seem to be the benchmark to aim for by any debut album release this year.
If you managed to get a copy the Limited Edition version, you'd have recieved a bonus Live CD from The Paradiso, which features the following tracks:
1. Cheating On You
2. Better On Holiday
3. Tell Her Tonight
4. Shopping For Blood
5. Take Me Out
6. Love & Destroy
7. Truck Stop
8. This Fire
10. Darts Of Pleasure
it really gives you a sense of both sides of the band, both studio and live.
All in all, an excellent album from an excellent band who are sure to go places this year.