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Franz Ferdinand's eponymous debut album was released in 2004 and was one of the soundtracks of my university days, with Take Me Out being played constantly in the clubs I used to frequent.
Their arrival on the scene seemed to coincide with something of a Britpop revival in music. Like contemporaries the Kaiser Chiefs, both bands were influenced by Blur and Pulp, but while Kaiser Chiefs were more childlike and in-your-face, Franz Ferdinand gave the impression of being more arty and slightly pretentious. You wouldn't catch Kaiser Chiefs on BBC2, "telling Terry Wogan how I made it", as Franz Ferdinand singer Alex Kapranos sings on The Dark of the Matinee. The band sings about going out, conversations and holidays, in a very British fashion with barely a trace of a Scottish accent (the band hails from Glasgow).
The music has a definite retro sound, mixing guitars and Britpop sounds with 80s synths. It has the catchy quality of good pop with the vocals and musical sound of old-school indie.
The songs on the album work together well, with no songs sounding completely different or incongruous. There are no dreary ballads, just catchy uptempo numbers. This is an album to be played in a club, or at a house party. Like The Killers' debut, it has a claustrophobic, smoky feel.
The album has something of an experimental sound, with signature changes and tempo changes. Debut single Take Me Out sounds like two different songs. This makes the album as a whole sound really different and new.
Standout songs for me include the fantastic debut single Take Me Out, catchy Michael and quirky This Fire. The album as a whole is really strong with a bunch of great tracks, and comes highly recommended by me.
Track Listing 1. Jacqueline 2. Tell Her Tonight 3. Take Me Out 4. The Dark of the Matinee 5. Auf Achse 6. Cheating on You 7. This Fire 8. Darts of Pleasure 9. Michael 10. Come on Home 11. 40'
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Rock & Pop
Franz Ferdinand: Alexander Kapranos (vocals, guitar); Nicholas McCarthy (guitar, keyboards, background vocals); Robert Hardy (bass); Paul Thomson (drums, background vocals). On their self-titled debut, Glasgow foursome Franz Ferdinand lift the jagged, danceable sounds of British post-punk to elegant and dizzying new heights. While they may seem to have much in common with the wave of American bands emerging in the early 2000s, Franz Ferdinand demonstrates a close study of the genre and proves its prowess. If the Rapture is a rowdy kegger in a Brooklyn loft, then Franz Ferdinand is a gin-soaked dance-off at an outdoor European cafe where no table remains untipped. As disciples of the Fire Engines, Josef K, and Orange Juice, chief songwriters Alex Kapranos and Nicholas McCarthy temper the edges with a sense of melody that wisely falls just shy of Blondie-style bubble gum. The centerpiece is "Take Me Out" (a U.K. top ten hit), which plays out a series of come-ons between rival assassins, over what begins as a sneering slice of mid-1990s Britpop, only to morph into a funky dance-floor tune. Kapranos is often quoted as saying that the band was started in order to "make music that girls can dance to," but this unusually assured debut is quite likely to affect discriminating boys in exactly the same way.
Rolling Stone (p.142) - Included in Rolling Stone's Top 50 Records Of 2004 - "[T]heir album is one killer song after another..."
Spin (p.68) - Ranked #3 in Spin's "40 Best Albums of the Year" - "[T]his Scottish quartet's debut feels life-altering from first listen..."
Q (3/04, p.102) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[U]tterly unique. Setting them apart is a bizarre military chic, the best basslines since peak New Order....The most ebullient British debut since Elastica." Mojo (3/04, p.95) - 4 stars out of 5 - "[T]hey see things in their own way and the songs feel like they're boiling over, there's so much heat under them." Uncut (3/04, p.88) - 5 stars out of 5 - "A dynamic, direct debut from funky, punky junk-shop monkeys who strut, swagger and shrug nonchalantly." Uncut (p.74) - Ranked #10 in Uncut's "Best New Albums of 2004" - "[With] precise guitars and jagged rhythmic angles, flushed with the arthouse swagger of Talking Heads and XTC..."
Magnet (p.66) - Ranked #7 in Magnet's "The 20 Best Albums Of 2004" - "[P]acked with stuttering mechanical riffs and smoking-jacket panache..."