Where does Franz Ferdinand fit in? Well, in some ways, it doesn't. The band's self-titled debut sold multiplatinum worldwide. Its follow-up, You Could Have It So Much Better ... With Franz Ferdinand, will probably sell more by itself than the above bands' entire catalogs combined. But in sound and pedigree, Franz Ferdinand is a Glaswegian band to the core.
Consider its roots. Singer Alex Kapranos and drummer Paul Thomson spent years on the fringes of the Glasgow scene, hanging around such hallowed dives as Nice 'n Sleazy and the 13th Note. Kapranos and Thomson were also in a later incarnation of the Yummy Fur, a nervous, raucous band that specialized in catchy chants rife with sarcasm and sexual ambiguity. Neither was a songwriter in that band, but consider how the Yummy Fur approach carries over to "Michael," from Franz Ferdinand's debut, and the new single "Do You Want To." Both are drenched in libido and innuendo.
Examine the trademark Franz Ferdinand sound as well, which is anchored by a jittery, shambling, four-square beat. This rhythm can be traced directly to Postcard Records, a cheeky early-'80s indie label whose flagship bands, Josef K and Orange Juice, crossed the Byrds with wannabe-disco beats. Franz Ferdinand has acknowledged the debt, citing both bands as primary influences and the group's success has allowed its label, Domino Records, to re-release archival goodies by OJ and Edinburgh's similarly minded Fire Engines.
So how has Franz Ferdinand succeeded where its progenitors did not? Perhaps the world has finally caught up to that classic Scottish indie sound. Or perhaps the band just sounds built for stardom confident, brash, world-beating. So Much Better should not slow it down one iota. The CD takes the catchiest parts of the debut and adds elements of the Fall ("Evil and a Heathen") and Village Green-era Kinks and Blur ("Eleanor Put Your Boots On," surely about you-know-who from the Fiery Furnaces). Next month, Franz Ferdiand plays Madison Square Garden, but in Lawrence, you have a chance to catch it in a small venue. Do.