Franz Ferdinand were the first band I properly fell in love with, the first proper band I loved and their debut was quite possibly the first album I went out of my way to get - thanks Grandma for making it my 13th birthday present. They were the reason I went to my first festival and quite possibly the reason I’ve turned out as I did. However, their last release 'Tonight: Franz Ferdinand' just didn’t capture me as the previous two had and until recently, I was completely non-plussed by this new release.
Hearing the first single (and album opener) 'Right Action' for the first sparked a re-ignition of the early days, like the jarring opening chords of 'Take Me Out' or the arrogance of 'Do You Want To'. Within seconds I was back in the mid-noughties, back with the band I fell in love with, back with the band who are possibly the kings of the art-rock scene. And thankfully, this is something that is continued right through 'Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action'.
It’s very easy to say that this album is Franz Ferdinand by numbers, and the loyal part of me argues that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but there is a point. By the time you reach 'Bullet' you feel as if you’ve heard the same song multiple times, and sadly that song is a rehash off their debut. I’m still going to say that it’s a step up from 'Tonight'. This may sound like I’m being overly harsh, but it needs to be said before we get on with the matter in hand.
I’m not going to say 'Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action' is a bad album. It’s not. It’s just rather formulaic, and a culmination of Franz through the years, at least one of the tracks on this album could sit on any other of their records. The tracks are all strong in their own right - they just could have been released in 2005. 'Fresh Strawberries' lulls you in with a gentle opening, then kicks into some almighty disco funk that we’ve come to expect from Franz, before slowing straight down again, an instant favourite of mine on the first listen (and by the second I just wanted to put it on repeat).
'Love Illumination' is another highlight, kicking in straight away with almost sleazy sounding guitars and a catchy chorus that will stick with you for ages. And there’s always going to be power in lyrics like “We could love, we could love you/If you need somebody to love you/While you’re looking for somebody to love you”. I’m a sucker for a good love lyric. The aforementioned 'Bullet' is almost a 2013 remake of 'Darts Of Pleasure', with an added edge of extra sass and funk that Alex Kapranos and co have discovered since 2004.
'Right Thought, Right Words, Right Action' is an exceptional album, if you’re a Franz diehard. Their ability to continue shaping and maturing their signature sound is second to none but you have to really be a fan to enjoy listening to an album that sounds like the same song again and again. I’m not going to claim Franz are the only ones who do this, most albums these days are, but this album isn’t going to create new fans or open them up to a new audience.
The songs are rather special, but then again I am rather a big fan of the band so I’m inevitably going to love them. Franz Ferdinand once said they wanted to make music for girls to dance to and over the years they really have, and they have over the years. Shame there are no indie discos for 'Right Action' to get the dancefloor airing it deserves. (Ed's note: Jack FG's clubnight does come close though.)
It’s the closing track that gets me the most though. Opening with the lyric “I don’t play pop music/You know I hate pop music” and similar in tempo during the chorus to another of my favourites, 'Eleanor Put Your Boots On', it seems to be drawing a line at the end of the album. Given that the band have been plagued with split rumours, the line “When they lie that it’s not the end” is rather telling, as is the final lyric of the album “But this really is the end”. That may just be a super-fan reading far too much into it, but they do say write what you know.
'Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action' is out today, and available to purchase through amazon.co.uk etc. Find more info at franzferdinand.com.