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Many lesser artists would consider it a lifetime’s achievement to reach incendiary status that Scottish four-piece Franz Ferdinand now find themselves in. Not bad going for a band who were nothing more than a drunken pipedream in frontman Alex Kapranos’ mind a couple of years ago.
As the Burberry clad Gazzas jump up and down, arms around each other’s shoulders, singing a word-for-word perfect rendition of ‘Michael’, possibly the most revealing song written about fantasising over someone else of the same sex ever, we relive the most explicit contents of Morrissey’s Wildest dreams courtesy of the inhabitants of the national front disco. Perhaps. Or maybe they just think it’s about Michael Owen?.
The thing that sets Franz Ferdinand apart from the pack, aside from their obvious ability to write such pristine, pop tunes (yeah that’s right, POP), is the distinct persona of each member. Everyone has a favourite, whether that be the studious cool of Kapranos, the insidious charm of guitarist Nick McCarthy, the Darling from ‘Blackadder Goes Forth’ look-alike that is drummer Paul Thomson, or just plain old Bob Hardy, the bass player who could just as easily be mistaken for being a painter and decorator as a pop star.
The opening bars of ‘Cheating On You’, which marry the nostalgic grace of past legends such as Orange Juice with the more up-to-date and sprightly dynamics of Belle & Sebastian, set the scene for what feels more like a welcoming home party than an opportunity to compare just how much progress Franz Ferdinand have made in such a short space of time. While the rousing “Ich heisse superfantastisch!” finale of ‘Darts Of Pleasure’ and the corkscrew savaged waltz of ‘Jacqueline’ aren’t necessarily what your textbook anthems should sound like, both are greeted with a temerity usually reserved for ‘God Save The Queen’ on St George’s Day.
Franz Ferdinand have now crossed that great divide between the underground indie scene to being bonafide household names. This is characterised when early b-sides ‘Van Tango’ and ‘Shopping For Blood’ both flounder in a sea of bemused stares and shrugged shoulders. Whether this merely suggests that many of those who saw them play at the Social six months ago have either dismissed them for no longer being avant garde enough or merely got trodden on by their new Trent FM following in the stampede for tickets is open to debate.
Having successfully negotiated the first steps to fame and fortune, the biggest challenge awaiting Franz Ferdinand will centre around how they follow such a supremely crafted debut long player and prove those doubters accusing them of being nothing more than a “one album band” wrong, but for now they’re riding on the crest of a wave, and with the festival season just around the corner, expect the bandwagon to roll on for just a wee bit longer yet.
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