Franz Ferdinand - Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (Domino Records)

Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (Domino Records)


For better or worse, Franz Ferdinand certainly made one of the wider impacts British music has witnessed over the past decade. In 2004, their Mercury Prize self-titled debut paved the way for other like-minded indie acts to enjoy similar chart achievements over the course of the next few years or so. And yes, some of them were justified (Arctic Monkeys, The Futureheads, Bloc Party), but others would have been better off finding the nearest cliff-top to dispose of all their gear (apologies The View and The Kooks.)

But the Scottish four piece pretty much represent a middle ground in terms of their quality of output. The first album had sure-fire hits, and the follow up You Could Have It So Much Better followed the same lines, albeit the music was starting to become slightly formulaic at this stage. But when they did try to reinvent themselves with third album Tonight, it was plagued by some failed sessions with Brian Higgins, that by the time it emerged, the record buying public were more interested in having ‘Sex On Fire’ on repeat. Thus, after another extensive period away from the spotlight with little report on their recording process, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action may be the first time Alex Kapranos and co. can enjoy life as a cult band.

The opening title track does tread familiar ground. They may as well have christened it ‘Do You Want To (part two)’, given the infectious dance punk hooks that secured them a place in the premier league of artists. But seeing as how this is a Franz Ferdinand album, what more could you want from them as an opener? That said, ‘Evil Eye’ does give an indication that the album might become dangerously sterile, however the Roxy Music influenced synths featured on current single ‘Love Illumination’ do serve as a saving grace. Continuing with the disco-esque theme, ‘Stand On The Horizon’ wouldn’t have sounded out of place on the latest Daft Punk record, although this is not a guarantee that sales will translate to millions here. But when track six ‘Bullet’ arrives, it’s a breath of fresh air. It recaptures that “four guys in a rock and roll band DIY ethic” in the same way ‘Darts Of Pleasure’ was executed almost ten years ago, thus destined to please the early recruits of their fanbase. It leads nicely into ‘Treason! Animals’, dipping more into pop rock territory. ‘The Universe Expanded’ and ‘Brief Encounters’ are pleasant enough affairs, even if they act more as filler tracks for ‘You Could Have It So Much Better’. Fortunately, the culminating track ‘Goodbye Lovers and Friends’ fares better. But this is where we find some words Kapranos utters at the finishing line that may cause concern to lifelong fans – “This really is the end”. Could it be that the Glasgow titans are really calling time on us?

Four albums in, Right Thoughts would be best summed up as a career snapshot. It’s the sort of record fans may well hold in high record in years to come. And whilst there are still flaws to be traced, it’s a marked improvement on Tonight. Although the mainstream crowd are unlikely to be frantically throwing their money at it like the moment Take Me Out hit the shelves, Franz Ferdinand clearly don’t need them any more. They seem to be comfortable just knowing what the fans want to hear, and that is how it should be.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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