Music Reviews
Franz Ferdinand

Franz Ferdinand Franz Ferdinand

(Domino) Buy it from Insound Rating - 7/10

Perhaps concerned about the sheer volume of hype they've been forcing down readers throats in recent years, a number of prominent British music publications have latched onto a cunning new technique of flogging us turkeys. Nowadays, in a bid to bypass our alimentary systems altogether, they're pumping their hyperbolic bullshit straight into our veins. It's a less conspicuous way of building up stylish and marketable, yet, ultimately, ridiculously ordinary bands. And it works. Magazines sold + units shifted = everyone happy. Except the fans. It all started with the Vines. Remember when your otherwise rational friend told you about this great new Australian band he'd discovered? It wasn't his fault; he simply didn't stand a chance. Unless, he meant Jet, that is...

While we're talking hype it seems pertinent to raise the subject of Franz Ferdinand, this being a review of their album and everything. Now unless you've been walking around with a big, fat blindfold wrapped around your head for the past six months you'll have no doubt noticed this photogenic Glaswegian quartet, well, quite literally everywhere. On the back of two admittedly great singles - the spiky debut Darts of Pleasure and January's breakthrough hit, Take Me Out - and a veritable shedload of hype, Franz have not only conquered the music press, they've burst into the broadsheets, taken over the airwaves, and even wormed their way onto our television sets. Yes, its a great success story, but does that really mean we should buy into it wholesale? No, of course it doesn't.

For putting good, honest indie label music back on the mainstream map, I have to salute Franz Ferdinand, but that sure as hell doesn't mean I'm about to start worshipping them. And sure, I enjoy a good blast of Take Me Out as much as the next man but that doesn't mean I'm going to spend my weekends writing a thesis on the hidden meaning of its cryptic art-school lyrics. Accuse me of seeking out controversy by all means, but I've lived with Franz Ferdinand for well over a month now and, if truth be told, it lost its appeal a long time ago.

Don't get me wrong: this record has its share of strong moments but, with the exception of those two cracking singles, few truly great ones. Of these, Tell Her Tonight's pure pop harmonies and pseudo-innocent refrains make it one the album's early highlights, while The Dark of the Matinee features one of the album's most intriguing lyrics, curiously name-checking Radio 2 DJ Terry Wogan in the final verse.

On the disappointments front, Cheating On You can be found jostling with Michael for pole position. The former is the most predictable item on offer, a few crisp pauses unable to prevent it from descending into complete irrelevance, while Michael is more overtly annoying, it's strangely familiar riff (last seen attempting to spice up the forgettable Jacqueline) and frankly boring lyrics (random selection: "this is what I am, I am a man, so come and dance with me Michael") making it a prime candidate for the 'skip' treatment. The strong one-two finish of Come On Home (when it doesn't veer dangerously close to Coldplay territory, that is) and 40 Ft allows Franz Ferdinand to finish on a relative high, but by this point the damage already is done.

If you can distance yourself enough to judge Franz Ferdinand on its merits alone, it's an impressive yet inconsistent debut record from a promising young band. Thanks to the efforts of the hype-machine, however, listening to it without hearing the faint echoes of overblown acclaim and ridiculously exaggerated statements (of which "this band will change your life" happens to be my personal favourite) is nigh on impossible. Taken in this context, the whole thing just ends up sounding like a glorious failure, the one thing it most certainly isn't.