Franz Ferdinand, ‘Darts of Pleasure’ (Domino)
Get ready for the next British invasion. Franz Ferdinand, a band from Glasgow, revisits the glory of the ’90s Britpop era, favoring disco beats and joyful chanting over the gloomy noize that marks many other Scottish imports. Lyrics with a lascivious edge triumph on their debut EP; Franz prove equally adept at criticizing the more superficial aspects of modern society as they are at delivering a bouncy melody. They pillage glam, rock, and new wave, with an end result that will win over even hipsters who refuse to shake it on the dancefloor.
Named after the Austro-Hungarian dictator whose assassination helped usher in World War I, Franz Ferdinand formed when guitarist Nick McCarthy–dressed up as Adam Ant–was caught stealing frontman Alex Kapranos’ vodka at a party. Rather than starting a fight, they decided to form a band. With suitcases full of polyester shirts and neckerchiefs, the band headed to London for a series of club gigs, signing to Domino Records in June 2003. The release of their 5-song EP and an upcoming December tour with fellow Glaswegians Belle & Sebastian ensures that the fashion-forward act will fulfill their mission of “creating music girls can dance to.”
In the title track, Kapanos sings, “You are the devil that sells a line of dark fantastic passion / I know that you will surrender / Feel my lips undress your eyes.” With a kicky beat and sparkling melody, the song is impossible to sit still through. Meanwhile, “Van Tango” brings the lively energy and vocal stylings of vintage (read: early 90’s) Blur. The song, backed by a fuzzy guitar lick, describes the protagonist as “the King of the Night,” smoking cheap cigarettes and watching ladies walk by. Switching to a sinister snarl, “Shopping For Blood” declares that the expensive appearances of “the New Scottish Gentry”–the rising crop of urban elite–conceals nothing but an empty, hollow core.
Before closing with the demo version of “Darts of Pleasure,” the band returns to their licentious ways in “Tell Her Tonight”: “She only shook her hips, but I saw it…I only licked her lips, but she saw it.” Throughout the song, the band howls and shouts with reckless abandon as an electric bassline quakes below, demonstrating that Franz Ferdinand not only create the beats that make girls dance,but also the music that will make indie kids spazz out. These “Darts” hit a bullseye.