Franz Ferdinand is a hard band to shake off.
Domino Records, 2013
7.7 / 10
Enough time has passed to dictate that a Franz Ferdinand shouldn’t work in 2013. Technically, one shouldn’t have been able to in 2009 with Tonight: Franz Ferdinand; however, the Scottish four-piece of Alex Kapranos, Nick McCarthy, Bob Hardy and Paul Thomson still managed to prove themselves capable of hanging with any of that year’s breakout artists — Animal Collective, Dirty Projectors, and Mumford & Sons — with an unstoppable smash hit “No You Girls”. I would argue that “No You Girls” is even a better song than “Take Me Out” or “This Fire” (“BLASPHEMY!” screams the Franz-faithful). Tonight: Franz Ferdinand came during a shift in modern music (talking both mainstream and indie) as alt-folk was just becoming a major thing (see: Mumford & Sons) and Owl City’s Postal Service retread, “Fireflies”, in$pired a wave of computer/synth-based pop bands. So here we are four years later, and Franz Ferdinand are back with their fourth album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, that sounds like…Franz Ferdinand. Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action isn’t a sea change, and it’s refusal to get with the times in the mainstream and indie music scenes is refreshing. In this regard, it’s like getting a hug from a friend you haven’t seen for years.
Kicking off the album is the infectious, high energy “Right Action” that’s easily comparable to 2005’s “Do You Want To”, except it lacks that dance-inducing climax. Instead, “Right Action” wops listeners over the head with a ‘do-dah-do’ earworm that burrows into your brain and begins eating its way through until the body is lost completely. My arms flailed, my legs shook, and I had to be tasered to the ground. Following song, “Evil Eye”, also picks up on another Franz Ferdinand trope — their apparent love of late ’90s boy bands. The song plays like a take on Backstreet Boys or N’Sync with a horror-movie like whir used while the bass heavy drumming calls for overly choreographed dancing. I could predict a video for this looking like “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)”. Hey, I’m not condoning this behavior; it’s just easy to picture.
It’s until “Fresh Strawberries” that Franz begin to make their shift from dance-heavy rock/pop to something less conspicuous. There is no push toward the dance-floor for a continued sweaty romp. Rather “Fresh Strawberries” delves into the band’s romantic Euro-pop side while never losing its hypnotic ability in making listeners sing along. The album’s next-to-last song, “Brief Encounters” starts off with Goblin-esque keyboard notes, instilling a creepy aurora for a song that I honestly think is referring to a fishbowl party — “Car keys/ Choose your keys/ Car keys/ Choose your keys”. You’ll be singing that in no time.
Rather than close the album on an adrenaline-high like “Love Illumination” (which comes very early), the Franz gang opt for a sexy slow-mover “Goodbye Lovers and Friends”. Alex Kapranos sings, “Goodbye lovers and friends/ It’s so sad to leave you/ When they lie and say this is not the end/ You can laugh as if we’re still together”. He repeats this again near the end of the song but rubs salt in an open wound with the tacked on, “But this really is the end”. NO! NO, FRANZ! DON’T LEAVE US FOR ANOTHER FOUR YEARS; WE JUST CAUGHT UP! In short, Franz Ferdinand use the Right Words and right sounds to climb in listeners’ hearts once again. The Right Action? Go purchase this album.