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Franz Ferdinand — Darts of Pleasure EP (Domino)

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NMWYH Rating: (out of five)

Touted as the new Strokes, Interpol or what-have-you, Glasgow’s Franz Ferdinand is riding enough hype about their recently released EP, entitled Darts of Pleasure, to become the next big thing in independent rock. I can’t count how many times recently that I’ve heard some band compared to the aforementioned acts (e.g., Stellastarr*, British Sea Power, The Stills, or even curiously the Walkmen etc.); I naturally rolled my eyes and carried on.

Darts of Pleasure clearly demonstrates that, though the EP on the whole is noteworthy but not extraordinary, Franz Ferdinand has some serious potential — and perhaps this is the source of the mammoth hype for these Scots. The five-song EP opens up with one of the catchiest songs I’ve heard all year (no silly, not just the last 35 days). Like several tracks from the Strokes materpiece, Is This It, the title track “Darts of Pleasures” is a vibrant and dynamic rock song. Singer Alex Kapranos flawlessly transitions between flaunting his rock mojo (belting “I know that you will surrender”) and, in the next breath, seductively whispering “You can feel my lips undress your eyes / Skin can feel my lips / They tingle, tense anticipation”. Although the percussion and fuzzy vocal effects of the title track certainly recalls The Strokes to some extent, the swift pace of the song and its overall energy are defining and differentiating. The icing on the proverbial cake comes at the end of the song: an introductory bouncing bass line, culminating in infectious repeated group chants of “Ich heisse Super Fantastisch / Ich trinke Schampus und Lachfisch!” (German for “My name is super fantastic / I drink champagne and salmon”). Absolutely brilliant — download “Darts of Pleasure” now.

While the title track definitely captures some of the new wave flare of, say, Natural History (yet more dancey), the rest of the album reflects such influences as the Beatles (chorus on “Tell Her Tonight”), the Fall (vocals on “Shopping for Blood”), early Talking Heads (guitar on “Tell Her Tonight”) and funk (guitar on “Van Tango”), without at all sounding derivative. In itself, the uniqueness of Franz Ferdinand’s sound warrants at least some critical praise.

But the fact that two (“Van Tango”, “Tell Her Tonight”) of the EP’s four unique songs spiral into cacophany at various points reduces the listenability of the EP. With the understanding that Darts of Pleasure is the band’s first proper EP, though, that same fact also leads me to believe that the band is still in search of its groove. Though the EP is not an essential, it could very well be the precursor to a great first album. Domino releases Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled debut on March 9 — you can preorder it from Insound for thirteen bucks with an import 7″ thrown in for good measure.

For more musings on independent rock, visit No Matter What You Heard.

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