March 12, 2004 at 05:00 AM EST

Every week or so, the excitable British music press announces a new Greatest Band in the World. They’re almost always wrong (sorry, Gay Dad). But current U.K. faves Franz Ferdinand — a danceable, ferociously melodic, nattily dressed Scottish rock quartet who had a female fan shouting ”I love you” at a recent New York gig before they had even played a note — could be an exception.

”We hate elitism in music,” says guitar-windmilling frontman Alex Kapranos, who attempts to dodge a post-punk-revivalist tag by citing influences from Howlin’ Wolf to the early Beatles. ”We love pop music,” he adds. ”And to us, the best pop — whether it’s Nirvana or Roxy Music — came from the outside, but it was music for everybody.” The same, apparently, can be said for the band’s own high-hat-happy, Talking Heads-ish single, ”Take Me Out,” which hit No. 3 on Britain’s pop charts in January.

If Franz Ferdinand (who drop their self-titled debut this week) have anything in common with past hype victims, it’s a willingness to talk big. Just ask why they chose to name themselves after a major historical figure. Says Kapranos: ”Surely every band wants to be a pivotal point in history.”

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