The postpunk revival is the new grunge. Not since the early days of Nirvana and Soundgarden has a group of bands seemed so intent on cultivating a retro aesthetic. There's nothing wrong with wearing your influences on your sleeve, but these revivalists -- led by the Strokes, Interpol, the Rapture, and now Scotland's Franz Ferdinand -- are remarkable for their ability to stage complete simulations of the artists they seem to adore.
Which is not to say that Franz Ferdinand is bad. Its self-titled debut is enjoyable from beginning to end because it is derivative of such great music. Songs like "Take Me Out" and "Michael" feature fantastic guitar playing and the sort of sexy punk-funk bass lines that are all too rare in any decade. Lyrically, Franz Ferdinand is closer to its contemporaries the Strokes, sticking to vague themes of urban ennui and the debauchery that ensues when hipsters go slumming through their 20s. If anything, it's here where it departs from its influences. Wire's Pink Flag and Gang of Four's Entertainment! resonated with the politically engaged sound of an iconoclastic counterculture; Franz Ferdinand engages in faithful nostalgia for that era sans the diatribes against Margaret Thatcher. Perhaps the safe fun of the post-punk revival isn't so bad. It's not revolution, but it might help keep Puddle of Mudd and Staind off the radio.
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