- The Washington Times - Monday, March 8, 2004

Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand

Domino Recording Co.

They’re Franz Ferdinand from the U.K.; we must be the U.S.A. Emerging from Glasgow, Scotland’s boho art-slash-music scene, these four lads are the latest trans-Atlantic next big thing — and on the strength of the half-reggae stomp-romp “Take Me Out,” already a hit single in Britain, they might just have the goods to match the hype.

Named cheekily for the Austro-Hungarian archduke whose assassination set off World War I, Franz Ferdinand at least brings a sense of tuneful humor to the crowded post-punk revival, unlike, say, the mopey enervation of the Strokes.

On its unfailingly catchy full-length debut, the band relies heavily on Bob Hardy’s eighth-note rhythms and Paul Thomson’s high-hat scratches, creating Blondie-ish grooves that rock just hard enough to keep you dancing while hoisting pints at the same time.

Modestly gifted singer-guitarist Alex Kapranos, who co-writes with guitarist Nick McCarthy, introduces the self-titled disc with the mock-bolero balladry of “Jacqueline,” a song that turns into a rocking anthem for slackerdom. (“It’s always better on holiday /That’s why we only work when we need the money.”)

From there, the album never looks back. The tempos are up, up and up for another half-hour of Talking Heads funk (“Tell Her Tonight”), four-on-the-floor disco (“Auf Achse”), anarchic punk (“This Fire”) and homoerotic camp (“Michael”).

Mr. Kapranos doesn’t match the biting wit of David Byrne, but he tries. On “Come on Home,” he spills his lonely guts to an out-of-doors lover, only to walk away from the song with this sneaky line: “Come on home, but don’t forget to leave.”

The heart of steel is similarly conflicted on “Cheating on You,” on which Mr. Kapranos offers the consolation that he’s “thinking of you” while being unfaithful.

There are snippets of German on “Franz Ferdinand,” in which case it’s difficult to guess exactly what Mr. Kapranos is getting on about. But who cares?

To paraphrase the traditional “Loch Lomond,” ye can take the high road or the low road — just get your posterior to the hottest Scottish party since the Bay City Rollers.

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