Magazine article Out

Dirty Pop

Magazine article Out

Dirty Pop

Article excerpt

Five years after winning over gays with their boy-on-boy dance floor anthem "Michael," Franz Ferdinand still love the nightlife.

When Franz Ferdinand an- nounced their intention to make a pop record, it was a bit of a head- scratcher. The Scottish foursome - pur- veyors of catchy, danceable rock tracks like "Take Me Out" and "Do You Want To"- weren't exactly trafficking in Austrian chamber music before. And what to make of the band's aborted recording session with Sugababes producer Brian Higgins? What exactly did they mean by "pop"? Were they dipping into Lady GaGa's face paint?

"This is dirty pop," clarifies lead singer Alex Kapranos. "My favorite music has always been that: direct pop melodies, but this dirty rawness at the same time."

Not the worst starting point, and the result, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand (out January 27 on Domino), is a fan's relief, the equivalent of being summoned to a 1 A.M. after-party by a reliably engaging friend. Influenced by classic disco, Grace Jones's "Nightclubbing," and the '80s art-punk label 99 Records, it evolved into a con- cept album about nightlife. "Turn It On" and "What She Came For" offer a bit more groove and swing than usual, and "Lucid Dreams" is an eight-minute synthesizer track that dissolves into Detroit house. "We were really into the idea of dance music that is near your heartbeat, like 104 beats per minute," says Kapranos. "That's when you feel like you're hypnotized, when you lose yourself. There's a real heaviness and power to that tempo. American urban stuff is like that, but British bands tend to be too fidgety and fast."

The group recorded Tonight in a 19thcentury Glasgow municipal building last occupied by a drug rehab. Because of complaints about the noise from a nearby school for the deaf ("ironically enough," says Kapranos), they boarded up the windows with Sheetrock, creating a perpetual midnight. Then they acquired some lowtech backup assistance when Kapranos and guitarist Nick McCarthy found a box of skeletons outside a doctor's office and brought it into the studio. "We were looking for some dry percussion sounds," Kapranos explains. "So we rattled a jar with teeth in it. These are tiny sounds you can't replicate with Pro Tools."

The band has taken an unconventional approach before, most notably with "Michael," a track from their 2004 debut that depicted a sweaty same-sex clinch in a club. …

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