Franz Ferdinand: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

Franz Ferdinand: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action

(Domino, 8/27/13)

"Right Action"

In a way, Franz Ferdinand has been in a no-win situation since its debut. Criticized as lightweight by rock purists, the band’s attempt to change course with a more traditional rock sound with the underrated You Can Have It So Much Better was criticized as a sophomore slump. By the time Franz released its third album, Tonight, critics already had written off the group as stale.

Franz Ferdinand’s hiatus probably was for the best — it had been away long enough for fans to miss it. So with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, Franz Ferdinand goes back to its musical roots, leaning more towards the guitar-driven yet slinky fun of its debut.

For the most part, the band is successful in invoking the spirit of its glory years, but much of the swagger that characterized its hit songs seems to be replaced with themes of lost love and regret. Front-man Alex Kapranos always has been a sardonic wit, but now his lyrics are tinged with the self-awareness that comes from age. It’s a perspective that turns full-on wistful ballads like “Fresh Strawberries” into party killers (“We will soon be rotten / We will all be forgotten / Half-remembered rumors of the old”) just on the lyrics alone.

But that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Even party bands like Franz Ferdinand evolve, and Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is an album that stays true to its sound while revealing an age-appropriate lyrical maturity.