Album Review

Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

by Franz Ferdinand


Domino
7.3 / 10
3rd September 2013

Reviewed by Ricardo Kerr


There was a time when Glasgow's Franz Ferdinand were the proverbial toast of the town. Their debut album, released way back in 2004, was a much needed shot in the arm for quirky rock music and - alongside the likes of The Strokes, The Killers, and Jet – set about defining the sound of the decade. Every single one of these bands has ridden the highs and lows of outrageous fortune since then. Some have broken up, others have lingered beyond their welcome. It is time for Franz Ferdinand to negotiate the perils of the fourth album release, a stage in a band's evolution in which all the rules are cast aside. Where Franz Ferdinand wowed us with its boldness and freshness, You Could Have Had it So Much Better eroded the goodwill with its lethargic samey-ness, and Tonight tossed everything out the window, Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action draws back to the original inspirations. The It is as if Franz are trying to wind the clock back and have a second go at making a debut album – like hitting a magical reset button.

Things start off with an almighty bang and a torrent of three perfectly catchy tunes await as at the album's beginning. 'Right Action' wields the album's title like a weaponized mantra and we are instantly treated to the endearingly goofy wordplay of Alex Kapranos. Nobody could (or would) open the lead single with a line like “Come home practically all is nearly forgiven”. This is the awkward, twitchy chic that make 'Take Me Out' an ubiquitous hit nearly a decade ago. Track two, 'Evil Eye', packs a sci-fi-on-a-budget theremin and a taut rhythm section. Then there is the propulsive 'Love Illumination' that shows what these guys can do with the right song up their sleeve. These pop hooks are honed to an impossibly sharp edge; the sort of barbs that bury themselves deep inside your brain and leave you humming fragments of their melodies for days after.

After these first three tracks, all highlights in their own right, the air is let out of the balloon and that impressive momentum is dragged down by limp 80s pastiche pieces. Infectious guitar hooks are traded for some suspicious metaphors (“We are fresh strawberries / We will soon be rotten / We will all be forgotten”) and aimless homages (a little Depeche Mode here, some Madness there). Thankfully business picks up again for the pun-tastic 'Treason! Animals!', dominated by a campy B52-style organ riff. Kapranos begs to start hearing voices and confesses to being in love with his nemesis. Ok, so this rambling nonsense may only make sense to those who wrote it but it makes for an engaging listen all the same. The last three songs revisit the band's post-Beatles confessional writing style. 'The Universe Expanded' follows the shadow of the previous track's keyboards and lets it all drift into darker, (dare I say) spacier territory. 'Goodbye Lover & Friends' bows out on a coy, knowing note. If you are ever looking for the sound track to a bittersweet break up you now have it (“Hope you didn't write a poem / Hope you didn't bring flowers / Hope you remember every fight / Know I can be obnoxious / Occasionally cruel / But only to the ones I love”).

What you are left with at the end of it all is a fun, if somewhat inconsistent, guitar pop album, the likes of which are rare these days. Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action is never going to usurp the venerated position that their game-changing debut album holds but it is an excellent reminder that these Scots are not willing to go quietly into that good night. For better or for worse, Franz Ferdinand are still fighting for their crown. So far we have one excellent debut, a disappointing follow-up, a puzzling part three, and now we have a conflicted entry to round out the quartet. This a battle that will be won or lost on album number five and hopefully we aren't waiting another four years to get the verdict.






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