The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Franz Ferdinand Debut New Album At Exclusive Rough Trade Instore Gig
John Doran , January 20th, 2009 11:17

Glasgow based art rockers debut brisk new pop album in East London disc dispensary - review and gallery of pictures here.

"Imagine being a young fan of Franz Ferdinand", says Spencer, Manager of Rough Trade's East London branch nodding at the postage stamp sized stage at the far end of the cavernous shop under the shadow of the Truman Brewery chimney.

One does feel young standing near the stage probably because it is reminiscent of something you'd see in a particularly well equipped youth club. It's the kind of stage you'd see a covers band called Tropical Storm occupying on a Scottish Island hopping ferry. It's the kind of stage that a W.A.G. booking a Take That tribute act for her Cheshire garden party would send back for being far too spartan.

"Just imagine it!" he repeats before wandering off to corral and reposition some photographers. I'm trapped directly between a gaggle of clucking European fans who can't believe they're stood within touching distance of the band and the band who are trying to ignore the fact they're being touched up by a gaggle of clucking European fans.

But Spencer and the Euro fans are right. Such is the career arc of your successful indie band these days that very few people apart from their fellow city men, and the sort of people who get invited to buzz building gigs in London actually get to see them live at a decently small sized venue. Let alone a Youth Club sized stage decorated with balloons, a dart board, a large papier mache axolotl mask and a picture of Mark E Smith smoking a fag.

It's perplexing that some critics have chosen this very moment to unsheath their knives for the band given that this album is such an assured statement. Even on first listen it breezes into view in exactly the same way the second didn't. But it just goes to show that most bands can't really win. If they had released this album a year or so after their debut dropped they would have been accused of being one trick ponies; of the tank running prematurely dry. Although not a bad album by any means, You Could Have It So Much Better, was a touch breathless and slightly prissy. To these ears at least, their almost prog-like approach to creating pop music seemed to shrill: "Look what we can do!"

Now they have gone back to just laying it down - like they've returned to their original (and great) mission statement of wanting to make girls dance. They have their groove back. On stage it's amazing to see them looking so youthful, relaxed and happy and when they get the ending to 'No You Girls' spot on they all spin round and grin at each other. Now I don't really care so much if bands hate each other - tension can be a great artistic power house - but they look content. And, more importantly, they look cool.

New single 'Ulysses' gives a fair indication of how good their new FM friendly New Wave sound with keyboards is - it's just a shame they don't end on 'Lucid Dreams' the total banger off the album that will be a live corker come summer festivals. Any live dates of theirs should be worth watching if tonight is anything to go by.

Read our track by track here.

Click below to look at our pictures of the gig. All photographs thanks to our friend Edd Westmacott and