Franz Ferdinand | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Franz Ferdinand 

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Now even postpunk's gone and fallen into the sausage grinder: add sugary hooks and funky disco hi-hat to the genre's cranky offbeats--as Hot Hot Heat did on their 2002 release Make Up the Breakdown--and you get near-cuddly syncopation. It seemed a bad bet to guess punk's cerebral, bony son would be accepted in any form by the masses (so grumpy!). But never underestimate the power and inevitability of hybrids--white dudes were starting blues-rock bands long before Amazon.com made all genres accessible to anyone with a credit card. The latest comer: Franz Ferdinand's eponymous first LP, released by Domino this month, its way paved by a herky-jerky debut EP that was hyped enough to annoy the hell out of fans of obscure O.G. dissonance-mongers like Y Pants. Franz Ferdinand is smoover than most early-80s postpunk groups, often slowing the beat down for a 60s garage feel; they keep the tone cool and bitter via cleverish lyrics and smarmy-Romeo vocals. Though lines of shy-guy poetry do appear ("I'm not to look at you in the shoe, but the eyes, find the eyes," from "The Dark of the Matinee"), they're artfully deployed (that line follows "You take your white finger / Slide the nail under the top and bottom buttons of my blazer / Relax the fraying wool, slacken ties"), and there's plenty of old-school psychosis--guess what fantasy fate awaits "this city" in "This Fire." Yet even the darkest moments on the disc leave a candy coating in the ears; if I had a thousand bucks I'd bet it that by 2010 some crazy kid will be playing danceable musique concrete. The Race opens. This show is sold-out, but tickets for a June 12 all-ages show at Metro go on sale March 27 at noon. Friday, March 26, 7 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Joe Dillworth.

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