Release Date: Aug 27, 2013
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival
There’s a line in ‘Fresh Strawberries’, the fifth track on Franz Ferdinand’s fourth album, that could be taken as a neat metaphor for a mid-noughties indie buzz band’s career. It goes, to a melody like Blur reworking ‘Penny Lane’: “We are fresh strawberries/A fresh burst of red strawberries/Ripe turning riper in the bowl/We will soon be rotten/We will all be forgotten/Half remembered rumours of the old”. Somewhere, a Kook is crying.Back in 2004, Franz Ferdinand were the juiciest strawberries in the punnet.
Were Franz Ferdinand a bunch of directional young whelps from Brooklyn, the internet would probably have melted by now as tastes of their new album, Right Thoughts Rights Words Right Action, trickled out. A sleazy guitar sound, redolent of early Queens of the Stone Age, allied to an over-friendly bass bobble? That's the catchy Love Illumination, whose lyrical search for "sweet love" is undermined by the louche sax. A galumphing glam-funk track whose chorus arrives mere seconds into the verse? That's Right Action, whose video re-employs Jonas Odell, the director who filmed their first hit, Take Me Out.
More or less the Scottish answer to American bands like Interpol and the Strokes, Franz Ferdinand, with their du-jour cool and deft combination of insular art flair and dance-floor populism, was hailed by British hype machine New Musical Express as the dawn of a new rock revolution. The band's blue-blazered appeal, however, started to slip after 2009's overly serious concept album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. Four years later, the zeitgeist may prefer its rock stars with suspenders and banjos, but Franz Ferdinand's Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is an unapologetically swaggering disco-rock album that refuses to overstay its welcome.
It takes Franz Ferdinand less than 25 seconds into opening track "Right Action" to jump into the first of many boisterous sing-along choruses. They're back and don't want to waste any time reintroducing themselves to listeners; it's greatly appreciated and welcome. Now four albums in, Franz Ferdinand's new full-length, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (the follow-up to 2009's Tonight), finds the band returning to basics, drawing on the same energy that originally caught everyone's attention back in 2004 with their self-titled debut.
Franz Ferdinand’s self-titled debut album came out in 2004; that’s nine years ago. That’s nearly a decade. A lot of twentysomethings will be feeling really, really old right now. Take Me Out was a barnstormer of a single, and the album it was lifted from was one of the best – if not the best – to emerge from the flood of ‘post-punk revival’ bands that made it big in the wake of The Libertines‘ explosion (and later implosion).
This tragic understanding of the temporary bliss universally known as dating is best heard within “Fresh Strawberries. ” Sandwiched between two tracks about relationship fallouts accompanied by infectious alt-disco beats, “Fresh Strawberries” acts as Franz Ferdinand’s own “Wouldn’t It Be Nice. ” You can’t help but feel a tinge of sadness as you listen to Kapranos trying to preserve the last sweet moment before his love inevitably turns rotten.
It seems a long time ago now, but Franz Ferdinand had the world at their feet once. The quickfire one-two punch of their self-titled debut and its follow-up, You Could Have It So Much Better, saw the band’s profile rise in stratospheric fashion, so much so that they were headlining Reading and selling out arenas within a couple of years. The latter of those records hit number one in the UK, and for a long time those big hitting singles – ‘Take Me Out’, ‘Do You Want To’, ‘The Dark of the Matinee’ – seemed ubiquitous.
You’re not going to find many people rushing record stores proclaiming Franz Ferdinand to be one of the most experimental, subversive and forward-thinking bands around. Their latest release, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, doesn’t transport us to foreign and startling musical territories, nor does it usher in a new musical epoch of any kind. Time and place is not altered at all by this or any of their other released work, but that shouldn’t be any issue.
Review Summary: Back on the horse.Although lumped in with such where-are-they-now? luminaries like Razorlight and Pete Doherty, Scottish group Franz Ferdinand never seemed to align with the rest of the NME-sponsored early-21st century British Invasion, catchy bursts of post-punk guitar and attraction to the dance floor notwithstanding. The band’s influences - underappreciated ‘80s new wavers Orange Juice, Russian Constructivism, the ambiguous sexuality of disco, etc. – never seemed to fit in with the snarling, egotistical rock ‘n roll that characterized much of their counterparts.
God bless Franz Ferdinand. Reliable, enduring, brilliant old Franz Ferdinand. Catchy, danceable, clever old Franz Ferdinand. Things have moved on a great deal since ‘Darts Of Pleasure’ and ‘Do You Want To’ soundtracked sticky-floored, sticky-hipped and stubble-on-the-sticky-lipped encounters in the dark of the matinee back in oh-four.
"If it isn't broke, don't fix it" goes the proverb. Of course your laptop running Windows 95 may still be technically working, but that's no reason to avoid an upgrade by now. In a way, Scotland's Franz Ferdinand epitomize the band undone by the fickle nature of trendsetting fans and their fragile, fluctuating concept of what's "cool." A generation of indie pop/rock aficionados will fondly recall the odd drunken sing-along to the hits from Franz's eponymous debut album almost a decade ago, but it's questionable how many will admit that even now the likes of "Darts of Pleasure," "Take Me Out," and "The Dark of the Matinee" hold up against today's equivalent mainstream straddlers.
It's been a long day off for Franz Ferdinand, the band Kanye West memorably tagged as "white crunk music." These Scottish boys banged out three of the past decade's most dazzling rock albums in one five-year rush, so no wonder they needed a minute to catch their breath. Right Action is their first in four years. But they return sounding hungry for blood, with all their twin-guitar glam-punk strut.
If ever an album seemed like ripe fodder for the scathing fangs of a cynical music critic, that album would be Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. Even in a year of surprise returns from the grave, this seems a bridge too far. A David Bowie or My Bloody Valentine album in 2013? That much we can stomach, perhaps even embrace. But a Franz Ferdinand album in 2013? Anachronism! Few bands feel quite as ill-fitting in the present moment as Franz Ferdinand.
Franz Ferdinand's fourth album is that very rare record that forces the listener to dance around his or her bedroom on first listen. It's so immediately likeable and unapologetically upbeat, in fact, that it definitively recalls the Glaswegian foursome's eponymous 2004 debut, which launched them into the post-punk revival of the early to mid-2000s as well as the greater indie rock mainstream. The overt similarity to that first album is not a bad thing.
There’s an air of resignation, even mortality, that comes through when Alex Kapranos utters the foreboding last lines on Franz Ferdinand’s latest album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action: “When they lie and say this is not the end / You can laugh as if we’re still together / But this really is the end. ” With a droll lyricist like Kapranos, it’s safe to assume that there are some double meanings going on here, as likely that he’s referring to an ambiguous relationship scenario as he is to his band’s future on the suggestively titled “Goodbye Lovers and Friends”—if anything, the latter reading might be the more obvious one, considering how some of the press leading up to the release of Right Thoughts discusses how Kapranos had been miserable during the making of 2009’s Tonight, with Franz Ferdinand on the verge of breaking up and, in his own words, “exactly the opposite of what I wanted to be as a band. ” So even if, by all accounts, Franz Ferdinand is back on the right track with the right mindset for Right Thoughts, it’s hard not to interpret lyrics like “Goodbye lovers and friends, it’s so sad to leave you” in the context of the group’s backstory.
It’s not clear what Franz Ferdinand have been up to in the four years since their last album. So precise, easily identifiable and well-played is their sound, there are no audio clues as to new musical influences. The vocals are crisp, the drumming scissor-sharp and the guitars as angular as ever. It starts off well, with the bounce and haunted whoops of Right Action, and then we’re back in familiar territory with the sheen and taut glisten of Evil Eye.
It emerged last week that Pete Doherty is now reduced to selling his detritus from a shop in Camden market. It's the perfect image for a scene that was left at the dump some years ago – the NME-invented "New Rock Revolution" that featured Doherty's romantics the Libertines along with the Strokes, Razorlight and scores of long-forgotten bands reviving garage rock and post-punk styles. Almost all the scene's bands were soon gasping and flailing in the deoxygenated blast zone of hype.
It certainly doesn’t feel like a decade has passed since Scottish indie rockers Franz Ferdinand conquered the world with their inescapable breakthrough single, “Take Me Out”. At the time, the band’s sound — a potent mix of danceable post-punk informed by the Closer-era of Joy Division and Gang of Four’s jagged jangle — was a refreshing oddity in a sea of more predictable fare. Their 2005 followup, You Could Have It So Much Better, circumvented the dreaded sophomore fallout, however, the creative tank went dry by the end of 2009’s pseudo-conceptual Tonight: Franz Ferdinand.
Contrary to popular belief, a near perfect debut is nowhere near as hard to follow as a scattered and sluggish third album. Especially if the “more of the same + calculated risks” sophomore bow comes in between. Though Franz Ferdinand’s Tonight was a fine record, it was a largely hitless one, rounding off a common career arc from which few, if any, bands make a meaningful artistic recovery.
Franz FerdinandRight Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action[Domino; 2013]By Ray Finlayson; September 11, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweet“Goodbye lovers and friends/ It’s so sad to leave you…but this really is the end” There’s a lot of this kind of ominous and prophetic language on Franz Ferdinand's fourth album, making it very easy to interpret Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action as the band’s swan song. Optimistically, and logically speaking it probably isn’t, though, which is good for two reasons. The first is simply the fact that the Glasgow-based band are loved across the world and have become staples of edgy, sharp, and wryly humorous indie rock and seeing them depart would be sad for many people.
opinion byBENJI TAYLOR The noughties were the years of the great British indie debut: The Libertines, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys – and Franz Ferdinand. Franz led the vanguard of the mid-noughties post-punk indie titans that once again forced the world to view Britain as a melting-pot for anthemic and literary rock; a band that could couple mischievous creative sensibility and indie-pop pizazz with ease. They walked away with the well-deserved 2004 Mercury Award; the panel of musicians, journalists and music execs prescient enough to realise that this self-titled debut would later be regarded as one of the defining albums of a generation.
Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action is the album Franz Ferdinand should have made after their self-titled debut. Not that You Could Have It So Much Better and Tonight didn't have their charms; the former showed there was more breadth and depth to their music than might have been expected, while the latter delved into dub and disco with intriguing, if somewhat unfocused results. Still, neither album had Franz Ferdinand's impact.
Franz Ferdinard’s new and fourth studio album, and its first since 2009’s “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand,” opens riding one of the most infectious grooves the band has ever laid down. “Right Action,” thick with a circular bass line and a wall of guitars, is the kind of smart dance pop that catapulted the Scottish rockers to fame nearly a decade ago. That’s when Franz Ferdinand, arriving in a fertile indie-rock scene that ushered in the Killers and Arctic Monkeys, hit big with “Take Me Out.” Since then the quartet has worked within a comfortable context of guitar pop, gradually peppering its taut jams with more dance-oriented outings like its last album.
For those who can remember that far back, Franz Ferdinand arrived with an agenda that stayed clear in miasma of hype that surrounded them; they would make "music for girls to dance to". Not being a girl myself, I can't entirely confirm whether or not they've stuck steadfastly to their initial aim. Yet one suspects that, as manifestos go, this was a tongue in cheek one, that the only thing they were truly serious about was instigating fun.
If all music must be a progression, then Franz Ferdinand might be in trouble. Their fourth album, ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’ is a thumping beast full of deliberate, sudden movements and big melodies. It’s Frankenstein on the dance floor of a Transylvanian indie disco. It’s art pop after dark.
Franz Ferdinand Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (Domino) "We will soon be rotten," sings Alex Kapranos in a telling lyric from "Fresh Strawberries," the fifth track into Franz Ferdinand's fourth LP. "We will all be forgotten/half remembered rumors of the old." Nine years back, this Scottish quartet was bright and young and rightly celebrated for having turned the early Eighties art-clang of Gang of Four into pop hits on brilliant tunes like "Take Me Out." Right Thoughts took three years, and "Bullet" and "Love Illumination" display all the angular guitars, mannered vocals, and European funk rhythms that hallmark Franz Ferdinand. Right Thoughts sounds good.