auto-inserted 09-17-2014 15:56:46
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Although Franz Ferdinand has been hailed as "Scotland's answer to Interpol", their debut EP, Darts of Pleasure, reveals the band as much weirder and wider-ranging than their impeccably dressed American counterparts. Admittedly, the chunky, angular guitars that propel the EP's opening track, "Darts of Pleasure," do sound akin to those on Interpol's "PDA," and Franz Ferdinand's singer, Alex Kapranos, has an insistent baritone voice that recalls both Paul Banks and Ian Curtis. However, it's not likely that Interpol would finish a song with a galloping coda sung in German, as Franz Ferdinand does. The song's surreal sensuality -- displayed in lyrics like "You can feel my lips undress your eyes" -- further separates the band from their contemporaries, as do the rest of the songs on Darts of Pleasure. "Van Tango" celebrates the "king of the night" with a strangely bouncy strut that's part glam rock and part art school, and overall much geekier (in the best possible way) than anything that most of the bands Franz Ferdinand are compared to would create. That goes double for the theatrical, political "Shopping for Blood," which decries the encroachment of English ways and tastes on Scottish culture. Kapranos takes on a posh, clenched-jaw, faux-English accent to sing about "the New Scottish Gentry/Anglified vowels, sub-London thoughts" as a rolling bassline and spiky little keyboard stabs complete the song's sardonic air. Equally funny and dour, the song has such a uniquely Scottish air and so much personality that perhaps the country isn't at much risk of Anglification after all. Darts of Pleasure is rounded out by two demos that are very nearly as good as Franz Ferdinand's finished tracks: a rougher version of the title track that doesn't swing and crash as much as the more polished take, and "Tell Her Tonight," a curious cross of punk-disco verses and garage-y choruses with sharp riffs, slurred and shouted vocals, and sludgy production. Even though they're just as heavily indebted to their forebears (the Fall springs immediately to mind) as the rest of the bands involved in the post-punk/garage rock revival, Franz Ferdinand still stands out as being both artier and more down to earth than the band's New York and London-based peers. Darts of Pleasure is a fine opening salvo from a very promising group.