Franz Ferdinand: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action
Alternative & Indie
It isn’t too much of a stretch to credit Franz Ferdinand as having been one of the most influential bands in Britain over the last decade or so. Since the Glasgow-based group’s 2004 self-titled debut album, skinny ties, pointy shoes and a sporadic interest in avante-garde art have been all the rage.
While acclaim continued to stream their way with second album You Could Have it So Much Better (2005), the four-piece indie band were victims of the dreaded third album jinx. Although it’s universally thought to be a fine stand-alone album, 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand lacked the expected Franz Ferdinand punch.
The band’s fourth album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, is – if you want to get dramatic – stick or bust.
The album opens with title track, ‘Right Action’, and immediately reeks of early 2000’s British indie, thanks to some rather grating chorus-chanting. It sets the tone for first half of the album, though it does improve, as it touches on the best elements of the tried-and-tested Franz Ferdinand formula – maybe a little too much, though. While tracks like ‘Evil Eye’ fulfil any yearning for the band’s playfully sinister nuances and sexuality, it shows little consideration for the fact that fans of the Franz Ferdinand of 2004 are almost ten years older.
It isn’t until you reach ‘Fresh Strawberries’ that things get interesting – but different isn’t always better. Firstly, songs like this and ‘The Universe Expanded’ reveal Kapranos’ many vocal flaws, as he often wavers when changing pitch. From then on in, one can only really call Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action a pleasant and inoffensive album – there are no stand-out tracks. Even the album’s first two singles, ‘Right Action’ and ‘Love Illumination’ blend into the bland and generic tone of it all.
Essentially, this is an album that feels like it’s building to a punch-line that never comes; each song feels like it’s on the tip of something that never materialises. While there are noticeable strands of experimentation, for lack of a better word, Kapranos and co don’t really commit wholeheartedly to the new direction that the album threatens to break into.
There’s not enough of the new, but enough that it taints the old in some sort of weird unbalance. This is by no means an ailment that is exclusive to Franz Ferdinand; we’ve seen the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Kaiser Chiefs struggle similarly. But you can’t help but expect more from the ordained intellectuals of the British indie music scene.