Several months ago I agreed to go to a gig with my girlfriend to see a band that I had never really listened to, but had previously concluded that they weren’t really worth my attention. The band in question was Franz Ferdinand. Remember them?
They first received mainstream attention in early 2004, when their first single Take Me Out reached number three in the UK charts. The single was soon followed up by their eponymous debut album, which also had the same commercial impact, debuting third in the UK album charts. Since then they have released a further three albums, disappearing from the mainstream’s eye, as the initial spike of indie rock popularity in the early 2000s slowly diminished.
However, it is probably unfair to lump Franz Ferdinand in with the fairly stagnant indie rock crowd, because their music takes on many more dimensions than the average verse-chorus-verse-chorus drone stereotype of the genre. Naturally there are several songs guilty of songwriting 101, written to appease the masses, but many deeper cuts (and in fact singles), use engaging structures and ultimately, excellent songwriting.
Naturally before going to see them live, I did my homework and listened to each album multiple times. Their current tour is in support of their latest effort Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, which was released last summer, so that’s where I began my listening experience. I was pleasantly surprised with what I heard. As well as having some great straight-up rock songs, such as Bullet, Franz Ferdinand aren’t afraid of experimenting with dark textures, complex ideas and bizarre lyrical topics. Now, after seeing their great live show and listening to all their albums, I would say I’ve been successfully converted.
The main purpose of this blog is to show that the band that you wrote-off after hearing only a handful songs (or sometimes even none), can actually surprise you and have much more depth to their music than first impressions might give away. I’m sure many people who read this blog wouldn’t normally delve into indie rock territory, so here is a list of 5 tracks that might just surprise you:
1. Evil Eye from Right Thoughts…
The song begins with a menacing riff, before lead vocalist Alex Kapranos whines over a funk-laden verse, with a great bass line. The track has faint industrial influences and is one of my favourites from their fourth album.
2. Ulysses from Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
Tonight is a loose concept album about a night out and the morning after, and Ulysses is its centrepeice. It is an unapologetic dance rock track, where synths growl and the drum beat is clean and clinical.
3. Treason! Animals from Right Thoughts…
Treason! is a subdued, droning affair, whose brilliance comes from its addictive repetitiveness. With such a bizarre lyrical theme and a bridge that lasts for just under half the song’s total length, this song relates more to art rock than the chart-hugging indie rock.
4. You Could Have It So Much Better from You Could Have It So Much Better
This track has its roots in punk, utilising a spoken word style of vocals in the verses, before marching through the choruses at a great speed.
5. Fresh Strawberries from Right Thoughts…
Fresh Strawberries is a well-rounded, pop-rock song and would be worth the mention purely for Kapranos’ Dexter Holland (The Offspring) impression in the choruses (albeit a quintessentially British version).
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