After ten years and four studio albums, Franz Ferdinand have certainly weathered better than many of their contemporaries.
Their latest release Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action comes after a four year hiatus, which appears to have re-energised the band. The same bright, driving guitars and louche lyrics remain, but tempered with a fun, funky sound that gives the album a certain freshness.
The opening track Right Action sounds like a band at home in their music, enjoying themselves with a slightly countrified knockabout sound, while Alex Kapranos wryly proclaims “come home, practically all is nearly forgiven.” There’s a brassy edge and funky bass-line which will prove to be leitmotifs for the record.
That’s followed by the scuzzier Evil Eye, and the almost-disco vibes of single Love Illumination, which show the group’s continuing love of shiny staccato guitar work.
Stand on the Horizon is a little slower, slightly weaker, but does get earn bonus points as probably the only song to reference South Shields Metro station, and that’s followed by possibly the album’s only less than brilliant note, Fresh Strawberries.
Bullet and Treason! Animals are both typical Franz Ferdinand, perfectly executed choppy and fast paced indie, and you can imagine the demented smile on Kapranos’ face for the latter, as he mouths how “something has really, really gone wrong”.
A standout track hidden towards the end of the disc is The Universe Expanded, a brooding, moody examination of a breaking relationship in reverse, from returning the dog to the RSPCA, to being “unintroduced” and forgetting the other’s name.
The echoey reverb, backing vocals, and eerie synth/guitar mix are an atmospheric setting as Kapranos, at once intimate and disinterested, speaks of parting “as happy strangers”.
The all too brief ten tracks are rounded out by Brief Encounters – a purposefully cheesy dance tune recounting bored suburban mores among swingers – before the grand finale of Goodbye Lovers. This final song is an acerbic, bitter recollection of someone’s life, through their antipathetic interests – slightly reminiscent of Dark of the Matinee.
It works as a funeral request, or a breakup song, with the narrators requests “Don’t play pop music, you know I hate pop music” and “Don’t wear bright colours, you know I hate bright colours”, at the same time hoping every fight is remembered.
And as an ending it is perfect, groovy but slightly down-tempo, drawing the album to a finish with “This really is the end”.
Hopefully that is not a prediction from the Glaswegian foursome, as Right Thoughts… could well be the band’s best release to date, as well as one of the best guitar albums of 2013 to date.
Suit Actions to Words and go listen to these Words, now.