Franz Ferdinand

Like the Strokes and the Rapture before them, these well-dressed Scots make an effortlessly stylish sound. On their buzzed-about debut they underpin scratchy guitar fuzz with insistent disco beats and body-rocking bass lines, while singer Alex Kapranos oozes the sophisticated, world-weary charm of a young man who's been to too many parties for too many nights in a row. (Yes, that's right: It's the musical equivalent of a Friendster profile, only with cuter accents.) But as with their Stateside peers, Franz Ferdinand pairs those trendy sonics with actual songs--wry, knowing ones about workplace ennui ("Jacqueline"), magical ladies ("Tell Her Tonight"), last-resort infidelity ("Cheating on You"), dancefloor homoeroticism ("Michael") and, OK, getting fashionably shitfaced in public (take your pick). In "Take Me Out" the band presents a pulsing groove it's unlikely the Strokes haven't already written; producer Tore Johansson even has Kapranos sing through one of those filters that make him sound like he's blabbering into the pay phone downstairs. But then, barely a minute in, they slow the groove down by half and unload the year's biggest funk-rock epiphany: Unexpectedly slow is the new fast! Your move, New York.