Franz Ferdinand was a high school album to dance to. That’s my first thought of it, off the top of my head. All of my friends and myself were awkward kids obsessed with classic rock and hand-picked modern indie; we didn’t buy into the whole “crunk,” “R and the B” business. I think that Usher/Lil John “Yeah!” song had just come out the same year, and we weren’t hoppin’ on that train. Some friends of ours were – cooler, more socially acceptable people were – but not us Kinks-lovin’ cracker dweebs! We needed some ROCK ‘n ROLL to dance to! Some HIP rock ‘n roll. That got a good rating on ALLMUSIC DOT COM.
Franz Ferdinand was a pop-rock-dance album that got four stars on Allmusic.com. And like a 9 from Pitchfork! And we could put it on at parties and not look like a bunch if pop-hating whiny-vocal indie loving freakazoids. Because EVERYBODY dug the Franz back then! (“Then” being 2004.) That included kids who ONLY listened to modern r’n’b crunx and kids like us who could barely stand much of anything past 1980. “Take Me Out” was such a hit! It was everywhere! And it ROCKED! “Dark of the Matinee” was so COOL! “Darts of Pleasure” had a KICKIN’ BEET! “Michael” was about SCOTTISH GAY PEOPLE! There was not an un-loose hip in the house when Franz Ferdinand popped on the stereo. Interpol sure as HELL weren’t dancin’ like this! Oh we all loved this album.
Then I actually sat down and listened to it, and realized it was one of the worst records I’d ever heard.
…ah-HA! Nah, just kidding, I still kinda like it. Although it is notable that, despite not owning Franz Ferdinand for a full two years after it came out, I still knew it front-to-back before then. Because my friends would put it on at parties so danged much!! But that’s OK. It’s a party album! So it makes PERFECT sense.
Franz Ferdinand is quite the hooky record. I guess it was the beginning of that whole “80’s pop revival” craze that the Killers eventually capitalized on (Brandon Flowers didn’t start it, he is a moron*), so the pop rock found here is littered with Gang of Four-esque beats and the sultry, coy vocals of Alex Kapranos, who makes every lyric of the album sound positively gaytastic. There’s lots of beats to go around, too, which is why this here’s a DANCIN’ album! “This Fire,” “Darts of Pleasure,” “Take Me Out,” “Auf Achse,” all perfectly danceable. And you can see why “Take Me Out” was such a hit – I still really dig the way the song TOE-tally changes from the opening boogie to that cool, slowed-down riff!
Having said all this I never ever listen to this album. Barely ever. Even when I first got it, I listened to it like twice and forgot about it, shuffled it off. Why? I don’t know. It’s not a remarkably substantial album, at least to these ears. It’s cute, it’s catchy, it’s got a beat you can pop on at a party, but I just can’t imagine myself listening to it over and over again when there’s much more invigorating dance-rock out there. And listening to it now, aspects of it bug me that didn’t bug me before – the psuedo-sultriness of Kapranos’s voice, the slight post-punk faddishness, the kinda silly lyrics (“You can feel her lips undress your eyes”? I know, it’s supposed to be cleverly stupid, but eh). I think it’s the unfortunate combination of me having already heard it about fifty-eight (trying to be accurate here) times before I even bought the damn thing, and the unrelenting ravages of Mother Time that make me view Franz Ferdinand in this way.
But I’m being mean and giving off the impression that I think the album sucks. It doesn’t! And it’s a helluva lot more exciting and fun than most indie rock, to the point where I think it’s silly to even classify it as “indie.” It’s POP! Dance-pop!! It’s just not totally my bag anymore. I’m not seventeen anymore and I can’t get easily wowed by modern indie-dance-rock-whatever music like this. It’s the curse of growing for four years. Also the Arcade Fire’s Funeral dropped in 2004, rendering all other pieces of music obsolete (I only have the mental capacity to really really like ONE ALBUM PER YEAR, okay??).
Oh jeez, I’m just remembering when You Could Have It So Much Better came out like a little over a year after the first album, and everybody was so goshdamned excited. Man, surely the Franz would have the same work ethic of those great classic rock bands of old, recording and touring constantly while releasing a new album every year. SAVIORS OF ROCK ‘n ROLLLLL!
And of course they haven’t put out shit since. WHOOP. I mean, they have a new album coming out NOW, but not until January 2009. That’s still a while chief!!!
Anyway. Please don’t get angry at me for saying mean Franz words. Go ahead and share your Franzmemories with me! At least they’re better than those fucking Arctic Monkeys! (By this I mean they can actually write a hook that isn’t overly-wordy and obnoxious)
*Sorry. Every few posts.