The problem of translating massive waves of British hype into American sales has long puzzled the U.K. rock machine. Once in a long while, a chart-topping, magazine-cover-dominating band will make a splash here, but most hit the rocky crags of American shores and sink. For every Coldplay, there's an Elbow, a South, a Gay Dad, a Cast, and a Kula Shaker wondering how such a deafening roar of approval could be so dim just an ocean away. Prepare, gentlemen of Franz Ferdinand, Scotland's newest rock-journal omnipresence, for a potentially lukewarm hello.
A New Musical Express cover star well before the release of its full-length debut, the band (named after the assassinated Archduke whose death began WWI) met celebrity almost at birth. "Darts Of Pleasure," Franz Ferdinand's first single, sparked the fuss, and rightly so: The slinky, charging pop song recalls Interpol and The Wedding Present in equal measure, almost perfectly distilling 20 years of indie-rock. It serves admirably as the centerpiece for Franz Ferdinand, the group's debut album, and what circles in close proximity does a fine job of nearly catching up.
The album-opening "Jacqueline" teases with an acoustic introduction before pedaling up to the disc's near-constant pace of martial beats and snaky, disco-indebted bass lines; hip-shaking is clearly the goal of both "Auf Achse" and "Come On Home," which rides on an undercarriage similar to Blondie's "Heart Of Glass." Occasionally, Franz Ferdinand slips into a different mode, such as the Pulp-y "The Dark Of The Matinee" and the uncharacteristically sunny "Tell Her Tonight," but the album is largely content to hover around the one note it plays so well. Though not likely to make more than a ripple in the big pool, Franz Ferdinand still provides an admirable diversion.