Franz Ferdinand’s first album in 4 years is everything I could want in a Franz album. It has the high energy guitar licks, the quirky and instantly catchy choruses, witty lyrics and a type of nerdy funk that this band does right. Like with the band’s past albums, all of which I love, they have a sound all their own. Some of the songs find them sticking to the sounds they know best and then there are a couple surprises tossed in. But for the most part, you know what to expect, and that’s comforting. Of those expectations, Franz brought an impressive collection of songs this time around and for me this is high on their list of albums.
The title track, “Right Action” joins a list of classic Franz songs such as “Take Me Out” that instantly get lodged in your head and make you feel good. It was the lead-off double single, along with “Love Illumination”, the third track here. “Love Illumination” is a bit faster than the norm but has a classic riff and even some late 60s style organ for effect. Even before the album dropped, these two songs were constantly in my playlist rotation on Spotify. Both had very good and very distinct videos (see below) where the band once again shows their wit that puts them just a bit ahead of their peers. Track two, “Evil Eye”, a pointed song for naysayers, is one of the highlights here. Bassist Bob Hardy and drummer Paul Thomson lock into a tight groove and the band is at the best. Following that, “Stand On The Horizon” settles into the kind of disco-post-punk sound the band has been known for and keeps the energy going.
“Fresh Strawberries” starts out with Alex Kapranos’s familiar croon, and turns into a melodic love song that has vocal harmonies of late 60s Beach Boys. In fact if the quality were more lo-fi (not a suggestion by the way), you probably could mistake it for a 60s song. “Bullet” storms in next and is a powerhouse rock-out about jealousy from the point of view of the rock star instead of the one at home. But it’s not what you’d expect with lyrics such as “While I’m away you can let their mouths go down on you”. “Treason! Animals.” is an odd song with a play on words title, with the chorus lyric “I’m the king of the trees and animals!”. “The Universe Expanded” is where Franz gets a little more willing to experiment. It’s a softer and slightly philosophical love song that creeps along over an organ-driven melody. “Brief Encounters” adds some reggae touch to their sound, but not near as dubby as what’s on on Tonight. The last of the ten tracks is a great one to go out on. “Goodbye Lovers and Friends” has just a touch of “The Guns of Brixton” happening. The melody is on point and the lyrics seem to reflect a painless or almost indifferent breakup. But is it a parting with fans who wrote them off? Or just a past love? It is definitely one of the best songs here.
What makes RTRWRA work as great as it does is the direct focus and attack the band has when it is running on all cylinders. Where Tonight may have had more experimentation, this album culls the best of what they know and puts that forward. The album is short, at only 10 songs and 35 minutes, but it’s a high quality 35 minutes. If you can get your hands on the deluxe edition, it comes with a second disc called Right Notes, Right Words, Wrong Order. The disc is a 13 song live performance from Konk Studios in London. This includes 8 of the 10 songs from RTRWRA and a few classics including a slightly retweaked “Do You Want To” and a version of “Can’t Stop Feeling” that is melded with Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” medley style. Definitely worth seeking out. The live versions are mostly sans audience noise and show you how close the band can play these songs live without being aided by luxury of many takes and mixing. Listening to it cements how good these new songs really are.
This has been an album I keep reaching for since its release. It’s great energetic driving music and puts me in a great mood. Definitely on my best-of list this year.
Get your own copy of Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action HERE:
Check out some great videos and performances from the album:
“Treason! Animals.” (Live on Letterman):