Franz Ferdinand (Domino Recording Co. 27)
21st-century indie rock is easy enough to follow; just look at what year it is, subtract 20 years, and you'll find the antecedents of whatever the current trend is. The Strokes reset the clock to early '80 right around early '00; Interpol brought things to gothy '82 right around '02; The Rapture stepped into dirty-clashy '83 around '03, and now in '04 Franz Ferdinand calls a limousine from '84.
Sure, it was perhaps a more satisfying world when bands simply played the music of their time, or better still, of their future, but while the retro-schtick of the early-00s is more than lightly dusted with poseur irony, in any event, it's producing some fucking good records. Franz Ferdinand will not be around forever, or even for more than two records (ironic posing isn't good for longevity), but they've recorded the most satisfying rock record of the decade so far. Here, we're finally given permission by the cool kids to let out our impeccably coiffed inner Duran Duran instead of disingenuously asserting that we actually like Television. More and more, the hipster crowd inches closer to admitting that they're no cooler than anyone else, and that all any of us want is some cool songs, pedigree not important.
FF delivers thrills unheard since the days of The Fixx or, I guess, The Strokes. It's so stylishly 80s that it's positively 00s, perfect for Urban Outfitters (who were, in fact, playing it when I popped in there yesterday), but certainly not bereft of substance. These guys write fucking great hooks, or rather they rip off very cool ones and put 'em together with real panache.
The sound is nothing new, but the fact that it's so thrilling is what's new about it. There's a lot of bands out there trying to sound like this, but few matter even now, much less will they five or ten years from now. FF rock the dancefloor fast, loud, and flawlessly, twin guitars tightened up like custom tailored suitpants, rhythm section locked to drum-machine-like precision, vocal harmonies not shying away from those weak-in-the-knee moments once reserved for skinny-tie pop bands, and even a Blondie-style keyboard here and there to show they're not afraid to embrace the overly "obvious" in service of a good song.
I'm glad it's becoming fashionable to be fashionable instead of all rumpled and sloppy, and to be pleasureful instead of ponderous. My only lingering question is: did these guys know they were ripping off "Hava Nagilah" in "The Dark of the Matinée"? If so, that's some funny shit.
Review by Heidi Jewelry