Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Franz on demand!



Not posting for a month hasn't improved my puns any, has it? As promised, here are my thoughts on the new Franz.

Franz Ferdinand
You Can Have It So Much Better

(Domino)

Alex Kapranos’s eyes glint as he tilts his head back and flashes those vampiric fangs. There’s something of the night about him. All he’s missing is the cape.

That mischievous, amoral persona is all over You Could Have It So Much Better. Check those titles: The Fallen, Evil And A Heathen, I’m Your Villain! “Your famous friend, well I blew him before ya,” he purrs in Do You Want To?

Franz’s second album opens with a killer hat-trick. The Fallen opens with a lightly frazzled synth drone over which guitars and drums break out with the muscular swing of a bantam weight boxer. The song reaches its climax in a dense cacophony of layered and echoed vocals and messy garage guitar. Super fantastich!

You’ll know Do You Want To? of course, the shameless tart of a lead off single. It’s as perfect a pop moment as any this year, jam packed with hooks and arch humour. Can you imagine any of their imitators throwing themselves so gleefully into the fabulously tacky “doo doo doo” refrain? Rather than whinge about the superficiality of fame, Franz head straight for champers and lachsfisch and have a ball. “Your famous friend, well I blew him before ya,” winks Kapranos, licking his vampiric fangs.

Galloping drums and a swashbuckling guitar announce the start of This Boy. A deadpan “yeah” and the band switch to a jagged swagger, Kapranos’s distorted falsetto vocals adding a sleazy, creepy edge to it all.

There’s a change of tack after this with the Sparks go Merseybeat balladry of Walk Away. Any song with that title raises the spectre of Cast’s unfathomably banal plodfest, but happily Franz’s effort is a classier affair, its rinky dink air of sophistication and melancholy conjuring images of Sofia Loren or Steve McQueen skiing in the Alps, decadent ballrooms and diamond necklaces. It’s not quite as tender as the music would suggest however – Kapranos seems to relish leaving someone behind.

It’s only on Eleanor Put Your Boots On that Kapranos lets his Dr Hyde mask slip and reveals his heart. “Climb to the statue with your dictionary,” Kapranos urges of his brainiac amour. With wobbly tremolo guitar and a Beatley piano part that sounds as if it was recorded in the back of small town hall it’s really rather lovely.

The rest of the album is enjoyable, but only ‘I’m Your Villain’ really stands out. You can hear the band having real fun with their three songs in one formula here. It begins with a stand-off on the dancefloor before racing into a Pulp rave up, winding up with a fantastically cheesy coda that take Status Quo down to the disco.

So this might not be the white crunk masterpiece of Kanye West’s dreams, it’s not radically different to their debut, but frankly my chickadee, I couldn’t give a fuck. I’m having too much fun.

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