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coverpic flag Scotland - Full Moon 91 - 03/06/04

Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand

A couple of weeks into 2004 and it's possible that the UK charts may have already seen one of the best singles of the year. Take Me Out, second single by Glasgow-based art-school fops Franz Ferdinand, crashed in at No 3 during January, and was as breathtaking and as audacious as any new reading of the pretty-tired-actually format of four young men with guitars has been for a while. 3 minutes of arch yet groovy, pristine but still dirty 'indie', the record simultaneously surfed the current trend of retro-plunder rocknroll while sounding utterly skewed and fresh. Subject matter: Saturday night lust cast as assassin-quarry hunt. A minute in, the Strokes-like intro beautifully segues into this sexy, suggestive glam stomp - which sounds like The Smiths really did burn down the disco, but managed to sneak a few of the records off the DJ at the same time. If Morrissey's flimsy excuse for staying in was having not a stitch to wear, FF desperately surrendered to the call.

It's this sort of pedigree that suffocates new bands, but FF seem like one of those that have arrived fully formed, knowingly fixated on where they fit in, what pop music should do and what its/they're capable of. Everything in its place - the mannered vocal, the floppy fringes, the junk shop clothes, the ambiguous, unafraid gay love song (Michael). It's worringly like Suede when they first appeared. Hopefully, this lot won't let themselves resort to cliché quite so soon. Spiky, buzzing riffs. Playful Germanic calls-to-arms ('ich heisse Superfantastich'!). Songs that sound like songs - ie they say something of where they've been, where they're going. Proper pop music - ambitious, pretentious, artful, focused on the dance floor (just try and resist that segue again, or the 4/4 Chic/Punk moves copped from Orange Juice, or Joy Division, or whoever). The personal is political, love is life writ large - 'This fire is out of control, gonna burn this city'. Named for the assassination victim that triggered WW2 - a pivotal moment that underlines their grand ambition.

Tangled syntax does the classic pop move - includes or excludes, sets the parameters. 'You can feel my lips undress your eyes'; 'You're the boy with all the leather hips'. Maybe this - this 'dark fantastic passion' - just seems more dangerous than it actually is, given the bland alleys most "rock" groups lead us down nowadays. Probably doesn't matter - pop is for the moment. Throwaway and substantial, FF's time is now.

Copyright © 2004 James Caig e-mail address

You may also want to check out our Franz Ferdinand article/review: Take Me Out.

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