Listen to this track by groove-oriented post-post-punk indie-rock outfit from Glasgow, Franz Ferdinand. It’s “Jacqueline” the opening track to their 2004 Mercury Prize-winning debut record cleverly entitled Franz Ferdinand.
The band took their sound from various sources, particularly from the late-70s and early 80s new wave and disco, with a simple goal in mind; to make records girls can dance to. It’s a good goal when you’re looking to make pop music, sell records, and to bring things back home where pop music that speaks to an audience is concerned.
At the time, the band was a part of a retro movement that drew from this same era, perhaps with similar goals. But, what separated Franz Ferdinand from the crowd was this; they had the songs.
Beyond that, they had something else, too.
First of all, this band sprang from a common fount when it comes to British rock music, and that is art school. From the Beatles, to Roxy Music, to Blur, British music owes a lot to the art school system in the UK, something of a catchment for kids who were slightly odd, distracted, delinquent, and maybe a little pretentious with a sense of high drama too. Yet, very often what came out of this gene pool of misfit kids was transcendent music, hooky and jovial on top, but with a keen and observational eye at the heart of their work.
Where this song is concerned, there’s a scene set, almost like the opening scene of a movie. This is a story of two identities, and ones that many of us know; our face at work, and our face when we’re not. It’s about playing a part during work hours, and about who we are underneath after work is over; living for indulgence and the world of the senses, with work and responsibility merely brief episodes in between to help fund it all. In this dichotomy, who is Jacqueline? Well, the answer is multifaceted. The most obvious facet is this; she’s the girl that this band is writing songs for. That’s a part of what makes it such an appropriate opening statement on their debut.
And beyond that art school tradition out of which they sprang, they are hooking into another tradition besides in giving shape and form to their audience. As a band looking to create their own sound, and something of a manifesto of epicurian mindsets through out the rest of the album too, they could have done much worse than understanding the motivations of their audience, and then writing songs accordingly.
The result for this band was international success, and five singles from their debut, all of which hit top ten in the UK. When you’re serious about writing songs that girls can dance to, the rewards are only to be expected.
Since their debut, the band have released several albums and singles. You can learn more about Franz Ferdinand at their official site.