Key Tracks: “Right Action,” “Love Illumination”
The easy way out is to say “This is another Franz Ferdinand album,” because it is. It’s a collection of short, fun blasts of alt-rock that meddle between catchy beats and artsy lyrics. But, like their previous “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand,” it does it’s part to separate itself from their less aimed first two albums. “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand” was a slight concept album, one that chronicled a successful one-night stand, in the typical glitzy and suave Franz Ferdinand fashion. “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action” relies more on the music than the lyrics to stand out. The album goes above the bands that influenced it – something many European alternative bands seem to struggle to do. Early British alternative bands like the Cure and Joy Division had a huge impact on the genre, and bands still model themselves to sound like their predecessors. This album sees the band still embracing them, but branching out and expanding their sound with consistently great results.
Some tracks, like “Bullet” and leadoff single “Right Action” still capture the energy of their previous albums. The tracks are catchy and fast, almost resembling a friendlier version of the Hives (with equally nice suits). “Right Action”‘s speedy guitar is interspersed with some bass bumps, giving the song a truly catchy feel. But the band experiments more with tempo and structure. There’s nothing close to the experimental, synth freak-out of 2009’s “Lucid Dreams,” but there are distinct points of growth. “Treason! Animals.” resembles an epic, based around a central character. “Fresh Strawberries” sees Alex Kapranos get his most cynical yet, comparing us all to a fruit that will soon go bad. The brilliant finale of “Goodbye Lovers and Friends” is a final statement; “This is really the end” Kapranos sings. But it’s doubtful that this is the final Franz Ferdinand record, it’s probably just their snark peering out one last time.
The only real fault of this record is it’s length. After waiting four years for a new record, it’s a little disappointing to only get 35 minutes of music. It’s a lot of fun, though, and it’s a memorable record. It’ll probably take a few listens to get to really know, and it deserves them. Franz Ferdinand have, yet again, made a fun and danceable album of bouncy, alt-pop with some real hidden complexity. Let’s hope this trend continues.
If you like this, try: This is the third album this year from a popular, catchy indie band that branches out from what we’re used to. The other two – which don’t need a plug – are among my favorites of the year: Phoenix’s “Bankrupt!” and Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of the City”
-By Andrew McNally