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Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand

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1 of 1 Room to manoeuvre
Room to manoeuvre

Domino - 2004 - 39 minutes

The first thing that strikes you about Franz Ferdinand is the name. Already etched in historical memory as the moniker of the Austro-Hungarian archduke whose murder sparked World War I, it's the sort of irreverent flippancy that suggests a sense of humour on the part of its second owners.

And Franz Ferdinand are fun. From opener 'Jacqueline' it's clear the Glasgow quartet are up for a few laughs. "It's so much better on holiday/that's why we only work when we need the money" might seem too cocky to strike a chord, but as spat by vocalist Alex Kapranos it comes across almost like a rallying call.

Kapranos, who sounds at various times like Robert Smith, Jarvis Cocker and Ian Curtis - and sometimes all three simultaneously - has a punkish presence that lends the songs a real swagger and edge. 'Tell Her Tonight' has a chorus to live for; pseudo-rocker 'Take Me Out' has a street mob vibe; Bob Hardy's pugilistic bass lines lend both an alluring yet thuggish undertow.

And indeed there are darker streaks here. 'Auf Acshe' is a stalker's confession ("you see her but you can't touch her/you want to but she won't let you"), and 'This Fire', even drenched in sing-along spurts, still retains a cool menace.

As the album goes on though, repetition begins to emerge. Consequentially, you might even end up differentiating between some of the songs by their album numbers rather than their titles. A brief change of formula could have done wonders, but the Glaswegians plough on. 'Michael', 'Come On Home' and '40ft' are the victims, losing as much from their sequencing as from anything else. 

As debuts go, 'Franz Ferdinand' is hardly life-altering. It's being widely compared to The Strokes' 'Is This It?', but it's not as memorable. And yet this could eventually work to FF's advantage. The Strokes have since proved they couldn't quite keep up the pace, Franz Ferdinand have given themselves plenty of room to manoeuvre.

"You are the latest contender/You are the one to remember" Kapranos sings at one point, almost as if he's holding a mic in front of the mirror. If so, he only got it half right. So far.

Tom Grealis

Tracklisting: Jacqueline - Tell Her Tonight - Take Me Out - Matinee - Auf Acshe - Cheating On You - This Fire - Darts Of Pleasure - Michael - Come On Home - 40 ft

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