How many of you like me were enamored with Franz Ferdinand back in 2004? It’s hard to describe, but something about that debut album lit a post-punk fuse in me. I’d just begun listening to Gang of Four and had dabbled in The Jam as well. These cats were just the right modern take on a untouchable music noise that I was just beginning to love. I imagined Ray Davies sounding like “Michael”, “Darts Of Pleasure”, “This Fire”, and the excellent “Come On Home” had he been born 20 years later. Alex Kapranos had this mix of snarky ambiguity and genuine sad sackery in his vocals and lyrics on that first album that I thought for sure they’d be spanking other revivalists of the same ilk in years to come. So I wasn’t completely correct in that assumption. But I wasn’t completely incorrect. You Could Have It So Much Better had these Scottish Orange Juice disciples putting their dance shoes away so they could show some rock machismo. Then 2009s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand was a mix of rock n’ roll noise, dance floor strut, and Moog freakouts. Most folks in-the-know would say both of the follow-ups were sorta failures(records sales say differently), at least artistically. I’m not in-the-know. I’m just a schlub from the Midwest that likes his beer strong, his pizza drowned in cheese, and his dance rock boogie-inducing. Franz Ferdinand have been known to be a bit bitey, rather cheesy at times, and can make this middle-aged white guy want to strut his wares more often than not. Well, after nearly breaking up, Franz Ferdinand have returned 4 years later with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, and while not breaking new ground have made the best with the fertile soil they’ve been working for nearly 10 years.
“Right Action” opens up with a familiar funky groove and a Kapranos sneer that tells you we’re back in sweaty pub territory. It’s a less venomous version of “Take Me Out”, sped up and some farfisa organ thrown in for good measure. “Evil Eye” has a great 80s dance beat to it, with a sound not unlike Madness doing a spy theme. Kapranos and company have taken the great production values of Tonight: Franz Ferdinand and the grittier songs of their debut to make something that sounds crisp and tight, but not overproduced. “Love Illumination” is the single and while it’s got some cool fuzzy guitar and even a horn section the track doesn’t really go anywhere. “Right Action” would’ve been a great single choice. But like I said, I’m just a schlub. “Stand On The Horizon” is a nice little ballad that doubles as a dance floor disco burner. “Bullet” churns and burns but sorta sits in one gear, but it’s got a great chorus.
We get a lot of the same throughout the rest of this album. There’s moments that shine, and others that sorta sit and wait for your approval. It’s sorta sad for me, as in my eyes the Franz Ferdinand that won me over with their angular riffs and snarky storytelling don’t need anyone’s approval. As long as they do what they do best they’ll be just fine. Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action isn’t going to floor you. Hell, I’ll admit it, Franz Ferdinand are a guilty pleasure. But guilty pleasure or not, they shouldn’t be written off. There’s enough here for you to dig your teeth into. And hey, you can go ahead and shake what the Lord gave ya. It’ll be our secret.