Smart Bomb

Delightful, dashing debut from Scottish punk-funksters

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Even if your instinct is to hurl bricks at bandwagons, leap aboard this one, and leap high. If 2004’s maverick motif is to be a return to intelligence, a post-Oasis state where ‘art’ isn’t considered a dirty word, rejoice. Franz Ferdinand are firing on all synapses, if you please.

The young Glaswegian four-piece may remind you of the days when Postcard Records flung the accurately messy Orange Juice and Josef K at the nation. Equally valid will be claims that Franz are this month’s UK Strokes. Also, you may ask yourself: Talking Heads, Interpol, The Rapture, Wire, Led Zeppelin, The Sweet, Television, Magazine, Sparks? Franz are fragments of then, and figments of now, and they make their own glorious beast, a clinical collage of these elements. This dynamic, direct debut (under 40 minutes) has a gleaming six-pack for a belly and belches lavender. It’s made by funky, punky junk-shop monkeys who strut, swagger and shrug nonchalantly.

“Jacqueline” teases us elegantly before the first clipped, precise guitar line. “Oh I’m alive,” it announces, “and how I know it.” The lyrics throughout proclaim an identity; abstract, peculiar, making only their own brand of foppish sense. First chorus goes: “It’s always better on holiday… That’s why we only work when we need the money.” I mean, what’s that about? But at the same time, what a fabulous pop refrain! “Tell Her Tonight” covers failed chat-ups, faint touches, breath on a neck. “Take Me Out” sashays through its staccato riffs and perverse, powerful structure, sexily. These boys are cheeky and charming: for all the influences, their voice is uniquely, gently mad. While their rhythms are as sharp and clean as a knife, listen close and you’ll hear a cough, a yawn. Further songs deal with infidelity, girls, boys?if “Michael” is overtly homo-erotic, “Cheating On You” brags, “Goodbye girl, yes I’m a loser”. Excellently strange. Previous single “Darts Of Pleasure”, is just excellent, while aggression meets agility in the closing pole-vault of “40Ft”.

Songs that sound like they’re about to come, but not just yet. That good. You want a piece of their war.

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