Pro Forma’s gift/curse is that Paul Thomson, their ex-programmer/keyboardist/vocalist/guitarist/drummer, is now the time-keeper for Franz Ferdinand, a revelation that probably should’ve been kept secret until the Scottish trio (now a quartet — Thomson was replaced by two new members) had a chance to stand, if not walk, on its own six, er, eight feet. Consequently, Pro Forma has the unfortunate honor of being compared to the best new band of 2004. Not a way you want to start the new year.
But at least it’s out in the open, which means now we can pay more attention to the music on the self-titled EP. [Listens to all five songs]. Okay, so when is the Ferdinand coming out with a new album?
That was mean. It’s just hard to stay focused on what Pro Forma brings to the table, an electronic casserole inspired by recent Radiohead and Autechre-ian sparseness. No, they’re not all over the place; they just haven’t declared a major yet. Most tracks drag on aimlessly, weighed down by effects that dart and flicker and then repeat. Even with only five songs, the band is essentially an exercise in form, a barking dog that knows how far the leash goes. After awhile, of course, the barking isn’t so loud anymore.
Incidentally, everything here starts off great. “The Passion Prefix” even stays that way, exploring the areas in-between looped melody by shifting to vocals. So give them time. Pro Forma may not be the new Scottish gentry, but they should be able to overcome the comparisons.