ALBUM REVIEW: Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action artwork
Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action artwork

ARTIST Franz Ferdinand

ALBUM Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

LABEL Domino

RELEASE DATE 27.8.2013

7.0 | 10

“Don’t you know I hate pop music,” Alex Kapranos sings on the closing cut of Franz Ferdinands new LP, and first since 2009’s overlooked Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. One would be forgiven for assuming Kapranos and his bandmates have an affinity for pop music, as their music has teetered along the line of indie-pop, mostly falling to the side of the latter, ever since their debut nearly a decade ago. That their new album, Right Words, Right Thoughts, Right Action is the band’s most pop album yet, is somehow both comforting and unsettling, as it signals the band’s awareness of what they do best, but also the sound of band hitting a plateau.

The album begins with a bang, as the opening trifecta are among the band’s most immediate records, and will sit nicely alongside “Do You Want To,” “This Fire,” “Take Me Out,” “Ulysses,” and “No You Girls” in terms of instant appeal. “Evil Eye,” the second track here, and one that has been performed on Letterman as well as Coachella, is perhaps the best of the three. That it sounds like it was made for the Backstreet Boys circa 1998 is a compliment, not a slight.

The album mellows out a bit during the next couple of tracks, with “Stand On The Horizon,” sounding a little aimless before Kapranos nails the track down with a solid pop hook. The group lose their footing a bit on the ensuing tracks, with “Fresh Strawberries” and “Bullet” sounding no less head-scratching the longer the album stays in rotation.

In 2004, “Take Me Out” and indie darlings Modest Mouse’s “Float On” became the alternative hits of the summer. Both songs featured rather idiosyncratic videos, leading to even more comparisons. Franz Ferdinand takes a page out of The Moon & Antarctica era MM during the opening seconds of “The Universe Expanded,” with guitar effects reminiscent of “Dark Center of the Universe.” It’s a brief nod, before the song veers into undeniably Franz territory. At 4 1/2 minutes, it’s the longest track here, and it’s also one of the best. While the group does make great 3 minute pop songs, it’s refreshing to see them let the music evolve in natural and compelling ways such as on “Expanded.”

“Brief Encounters” follows with interstellar synths, sounding almost like a carnival on acid.  It’s another moment that gets stronger with each listen. The same can be said about the closing “Goodbye, Lovers & Friends,” one of the darkest tracks here. Kapranos sings about being “occasionally cruel, but only to the ones I love.” He sounds almost repentant, although he claims he doesn’t need to be forgiven. “When they lie and say this is not the end, you can laugh as if we’re still together,” he sings during the closing seconds. While no one will believe Kapranos when he sings, “you know I hate pop music,” maybe he’s not railing against the music itself, but the memories that come with it.

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