Review: Franz Ferdinand Roar Back To Life With ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action’

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Let’s have a brief recap on Franz Ferdinand. They released a debut album that was a masterful stroke of jangly pop ferocity, coupled with danceable disco/funk. Anthemic and bold, the album blew up, as did the band. Blowing a hole in a rather listless time in Brit-pop. Franz Ferdinand avoided the sophomore slump with You Could Have Had It So Much Better. While not as immediate, or powerful, as their debut, the band’s second album was still a pop goldmine. The FF train lost a bit of steam with Tonight: Franz Ferdinand. A bland and redundant record, the band’s third offering felt forced.

The band closed out 2009, and promptly vanished. Then, from that silence, two singles dropped this year. “Right Action” and “Love Illumination” were awesome bombs of synths, serrated guitar riffs, and campy, hip-shaking good times. Eyebrows were raised, expectations soared, and those who were waiting for a FF return held their breath. Would Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action bring back the good times?

Oh yes friends. It does.

The song “Right Action” kicks things off like Franz Ferdinand’s mutant baby with “New Pollution” era Beck, but the party ramps up with “Evil Eye”. It’s a toe-tapping beat piled high with saucy riffs. Franz Ferdinand keeps the swagger going throughout Right Action. “Stand On The Horizon” is so infectious it might as well be a Broadway show tune, while “Fresh Strawberries” rounds out the band’s obvious love for 60s garage rock.

 “Bullet” has to be the next single. The highest-octane jam on the album, “Bullet” hinges on the jumping rhythms section, which should infect millions of kids to start pogoing instantly. Atop those rhythms is a guitar line The Strokes are crying in their beer they didn’t write.  Right Action continues the dance party. Take the angled guitar work on “Treason! Animals” or the spacey electronica ballad “The Universe Expanded”. 

Franz Ferdinand end Right Action on a high note with “Goodbye Lovers & Friends”. FF builds a patchwork quilt of elements to end their new album. Sitars find their way into “Goodbye, Lovers & Friends”, as do smooth R&B drums and an airy, wistful chorus. The tune takes a variation of loud, quiet, loud, by fusing the three together. “Goodbye, Lovers & Friends” starts low, raises slow to a peek, and then slows back down again. It doesn’t use stark dynamics, preferring instead to bring the song up in increments. “Goodbye, Lovers & Friends” takes the more experimental side of Franz Ferdinand and fuses it to what they do best.

I’m glad FF returned to form. Part of the issue with Tonight, was the band’s need to step out of their own shadow. It’s a natural instinct, especially when you’re known for pure rump shakers. There was always a taste of art-rock in what FF was doing, but they really pushed that angle with their third album. Perhaps they tried too hard, or maybe people weren’t ready for art-rock chocolate in their Brit-pop peanut butter, but the largest reaction to the experimental Tonight was indifference. After their hiatus, the band has returned with more confidence, and less to prove. The strength of the tunes on Right Action is proof of that.

Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is, well, the right record for Franz Ferdinand right now. The jangle party is back, the rumps are free to shake, and the rest of the Brit-Pop world needs to stand up and take notice.

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