White Rose Movement, King's College, London

Throw your Franz up in the air
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The Independent Culture

This is what I like to see. I'm not talking about White Rose Movement, although I'll get on to that shortly. I'm talking about the vista from the bar window. In an age when utilitarianism is trampled everywhere by selfishness, it's somehow reassuring that the student's union of King's College, the building with the optimum view of the Thamescape (from Parliament in the west to Tower Bridge in the east), still hasn't been converted into luxury apartments for Roman Abramovich and Jeffrey Archer, and remains a public building.

Likewise, in an age where dumb, everyman-friendly, lo-com-denom Tesco rock appears primed to stamp its jackboot onto the human face for all eternity, it's invigorating to know that someone out there is fighting a rearguard action.

WRM are named, perhaps tellingly, after a group of Munich-based activists who valiantly opposed the Nazis in the 1930s. Their three-letter acronym is rendered in sharp diagonal lines on their Constructivist logo. Their sound is art-disco. Ringing any bells?

Well, if Franz Ferdinand's formula (name taken from European history, love of early 20th-century design, music which moves the hips and the cerebellum) triggered a few lightbulbs in WRM's heads, so be it, and bring it on. I'm not bored with this stuff yet.

Formed in 2004, White Rose Movement's story may be part-myth, but let's play along. The four English, male members were all raised on a Norfolk hippy commune, and moved to east London, where they ran a club night called Dazzle! in an S&M venue. They recruited their Scandinavian fifth member Taxxi (real name Erica, but let's not spoil the fun) at Trash, where bassist Owen Dyke approached every attractive girl and asked if they could play keyboards. They initially funded the band's activities by working as decorators; the white paint on their hands was frequently mistaken for a fashion statement. Debut single "Love is a Number" was championed by Trash's Erol Alkan, and producer Paul Epworth (darling of the angular nouveau post-punk set) helped them record an album.

Up onstage, I'm looking at singer Finn Vine, all Curtis charisma and side-slicked hair, taller and thinner than I've ever been, even at 19. Around him I'm seeing bleached hair, wristbands and polka dots (but no white paint - they can afford to give up the day job). I'm hearing a narcissistic yelp going "ayayayaya", and an infectious Eighties-inspired beat. I'm listening to recent single "Girls In The Back" and the forthcoming "Alsatian", and thinking of A Flock of Seagulls (WRM would probably say Cabaret Voltaire and A Certain Ratio for coolness points, but what do you get if you take CV and ACR and make them pop? AFOS, that's what). I'm remembering a mutual acquaintance telling me they're arrogant, but that's OK: I like my pop stars that way.

And I'm looking out of the window, surveying the city lights, thinking that maybe London in 2006 ain't such a bad place to be.

s.price@independent.co.uk

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