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by Luke Baumgarten and Carey Murphy & r & FRANZ FERDINAND -


You Could Have It So Much Better **** & r & "What's wrong with a little destruction?" foxy Franz frontman Alex Kapronos inquires on Better's opening track "The Fallen." Not a thing. The imagery of destruction permeates the entire album: self-destruction, hopelessness, loss of love. This is great stuff, the results of contemplating being the center of the dance-rock universe. And only Franz could make you wanna dance to it.


There is safe ground here, though. Beatles-esque tracks like "Fade Together" and "Eleanor Put Your Boots On" (must be Fiery Furnaces' chanteuse Eleanor Friedberger, right?) retain la-la sing-alongs, of course, because Franz are who they are. The first single, "Do You Want To" makes me wanna get down. And I don't dance. But tracks like "Evil and a Heathen," a two-minute blitz, suggest a momentary shift in the band's artistic vision: Evil liberates. "I'm Your Villain" surprises equally: Accept the possibilities that laughter and love save no one.


Full of super-singles, Better will sell millions. We love these Glaswegian glamsters because their synthy sweetness is just so precious.


--Carey Murphy





DANGERDOOM & r & The Mouse and the Mask **** & r &


Why can't you rap about cartoons? Similar question: Why can't you market cartoons to 30-year-olds? Heretofore unthinkable. Unutterable. Nonsense. Hogwash. Then [adult swim] comes along with a lineup of super-literate cartoons, none of which the any 7-year-old is going to understand. These shows become hits. Suddenly, everything is in play. Thirtysomethings are announcing their love of cartoons to the world. They're now part of the public discourse, but still waiting for the right MC.


MF Doom's previous work suggests he's wanted to rap about cartoons since, like, ever. He doesn't waste the chance. His flows sound like works of cell-animated genius. Doom here is at his most supple; his rhymes are more brilliant and fluid than anywhere else. Dangermouse's beats are smart, layered and engaging, but carefully bend to Doom's erratic style. The exception to that is "Crosshairs," which sounds like Doom rapped over a totally different track.


In all, this is a highly satisfying album, and, with the [adult swim] characters making cameos, it feels like cartoon-geek catharsis.


--Luke Baumgarten
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