Review: Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
Published on August 27th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
On their fourth album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, Franz Ferdinand still can’t help themselves from slipping into disco at virtually every turn.
While this can compromise the emotional impact that something like “Stand on the Horizon” might have had (“How can I tell you I was wrong? / I am the cruellest man that you’ve ever known”), it’s actually pretty engaging for the first few tracks at least.
Their angular, Germanic sound is more exuberantly ‘poppy’ and sunnily disposed than it has been before, and this is really rather becoming of them – especially when such care and attention has gone into filling out the mix with jerky, Talking Heads-y elements.
We’d like to say that these elements act as ‘pinball machine flicker’-like miniature gatekeepers for the electricity that’s always coursed through their sound, but that might come across as a wee bit pretentious.
Anyway, the production is tremendous, not least on the slyly creeping yet deliriously eccentric disco-funk of “Evil Eye”, while “Fresh Strawberries” is so exhilaratingly melodic as to be verging on Pulp.
Unfortunately, it ends up playing out a tad ‘samily’ – er, it’s our proposed adverb for ‘samey’ – from thereon in. Urgent, driving Byrne-pop: that sort of thing.
There’s plenty to like, but when Alex Kapranos sings on “Treason! Animals.” of being in love variously with a narcissist, a nemesis and his analyst…well, you kind of wish he’d been in love with musical possibilities instead.
“I don’t play pop music, no / You know I hate pop music” he protests on closing track “Goodbye Lovers and Friends”, before revealing the intended irony with “I don’t wear black colours, no / You know I hate black colours”.
This kind of thing should, in theory, play well alongside the more emotionally honest likes of “I know I took more than I ever gave”…but somehow the juxtaposition feels a little jarring, owing perhaps to the transparency of the ploy.
We could be way off the mark there. In any case, it’s striking that Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action doesn’t truly lay itself bare until its very last line, a doom-laden delivery of “…but this really is the end”.
As unoriginal a way as this may be to end a review, it feels like too little too late.
Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is out now on Domino.
Rocksucker says: Three Quails out of Five!