Fresh From Scotland, Gear Eyes For the Slate Guys

Ah yes, another quartet of U.K. art-school hopouts sprung fully form-fitted and self-conscious from Bryan Ferry's fashionably furrowed brow. So if these eyepod-peeps are so clever (their interviews are full of arch and silly repartee), how'd they come up with such a shopworn name and cover design—bare, tilted type that shouts "Herr-metal!"? They could've just as well called themselves "Hapsburger Helper" and picked up some pomo props in the process.

But so much for the all-important Ferry-disaster surfaces; Franz Ferdinand is actually a good record when you reach the audio dimension: frantic and rhythmic Scotpop with many echoes of so-'90s Blur in the sardonic jabs at middle-class bromides. Theoretically designed as "music girls could dance to," the Franzies' rambo-unctuous repertoire gives me a JPEG of all the skirts back in Glasgow pogoing their poppers out in orgasm-optional discos. Odd vocal wafts of the Kinks and even Chad & Jeremy (!) pretty up several of these singshlong riffs, all of 'em worth ear-time. And like the old-time deejays, you can simply flip the jewel-case art over to the B side: That cubist-shredded woman speaks the album's tart tongues way more fluently than the duff front does.

 
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