The Modern Classic: Franz Ferdinand by Franz Ferdinand
Franz Ferdinand – Original Release Date: February 9th 2004
By the early 2000s, the nail was firmly hammered into the coffins of many 90s alternative rock stylings. While some Britpop artists continued to enjoy success, and Radiohead emerged with their trademark style, for the first time in a long time, the UK’s alternative scene was lacking a movement with the uniquely British sound of Madchester or Britpop. Cue the emergence of ‘post-punk revival’, which saw Modest Mouse, The White Stripes and The Strokes rise to power in The States, and a handful of British bands take on a more guitar-driven style of rock than some of their Britpop predecessors, or their American contemporaries. Franz Ferdinand’s eponymous debut was one of the first of these releases to mark out a clear British sound for perhaps the first time since Britpop.
In a testament to their cohesion and confidence, Franz Ferdinand accustom the listener to their sound very early in the piece. By the time the hit single ‘Take Me Out’ rolls around, we’re well aware that this is a band whose Modus Operandi is to have their guitars dictate the course of the song. Far from saying that they’re just a ‘guitar band’, Franz Ferdinand’s hook-based work is often the source of their charm, offering a source of distinction from the more lo-fi artists from across The Atlantic, and allowing the band to maintain that youthful rapport which characterised early Post-Punk acts. What’s more, it’s their guitars which give Franz Ferdinand the chance to strike that rare balance between being a meritorious, skilful rock band and a slightly poppy, danceable outfit. It’s a balance which would go on to typify Kasabian, Kaiser Chiefs and numerous other British groups of the time.
For a debut album, and one which would help to mark a clear step into new territory for British alternative music, Franz Ferdinand is also remarkably consistent. Always subtle in its lyrics, the record is able to maintain our interest even in its more solemn, considered moments. The restrained introduction to the album’s first track, ‘Jacqueline’, and the homoerotic lyrics of ‘Michael’ are two clear moments when Franz Ferdinand show that they’re not just guitar-horny party animals, but a band who are capable of maturity beyond what their brief catalogue would suggest at this point.
Next week on The Modern Classic, we’ll be looking at another successful debut album, this time from an Australian artist.