It’s been four barren years since Franz Ferdinand’s last album, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand and, although it was the weakest of their now four releases, they have been sorely missed in that time. However, lead singer Alex Kapranos recently told BBC Breakfast that the gap probably “seemed bigger from the outside” as the band embarked upon a long world tour after the last album.
Regardless, they’re here now and although its title is wordy, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is full of right songs: this is what the catchphrase “all killer, no filler” was made for.
Although they’ll always be best remembered for Take Me Out, Franz Ferdinand have had some absolute gems on each and every one of their albums, and the singles are usually the catchiest and most eccentric of them all, as Do You Want To and Ulysses will also attest to; Love Illumination can now join that club as it is the catchiest thing by an actual guitar band (as opposed to the Robin Thickes and Carly Rae Jepsens of the world) in who-knows-how-long!
Its thumping beat, brilliant sax riff (the moment it kicks in is wonderfully surprising on the first listen) and rhythmic lyrics about the potential of love make for the perfect song that has the potential to make you dance in the garden all summer and cheer you up in the winter. I’m not exaggerating about how great this song is: even if you have no interest in the rest of the album, just give this one a try.
The album begins with Right Action, a song that is in itself a fun romp in which the album title creates an infectious hook; the chorus and middle eight turn slightly darker but happily swing back to the retro pop of the verses. This is a brilliant song to start an album as it means to go on and pull a listener in.
Next up is Evil Eye, which begins with a Billie Jean beat before expanding into a complex and, once again, catchy song about perspective, with some excellent twists, turns and offbeats along the way.
Stand On The Horizon’s first verse is the slowest section of the album so far and so gives a short respite, but the moment the tempo picks up it’s hard not to be relieved, because the listener is, at least subconsciously, likely to have been dancing non-stop, and there’s no reason that should stop unless the music is getting samey: here it was not, as it’s what Franz Ferdinand do best. Regardless, it’s nice to see a more tender side to the band in such a relatable song about being too proud and wanting something back.
Fresh Strawberries is another with a tentative introduction, but kicks in much sooner and the music somehow reinforces the realism of the lyrics; perhaps it’s reminiscent of other gritty indie-pop, but it feels nostalgic with jangly guitar and contrasting vocals between the dark, straightforward verse and the more pleading choruses. Bullet keeps up this old school vibrancy and rolling guitar feel, and is one of the best on the album (even though the pattern here is that they’re all fantastic).
Treason! Animals is as insistent as any of the others, repeatedly singing about being an animal amongst one short, repetitive (but wonderful) guitar riff. The Universe Expanded and Brief Encounters both feature more synth and a psychedelic mood, as you may expect from their titles; the former is about the backwards feeling after a relationship as you end up moving into the empty-feeling void of the universe, and the latter deals with the futility of life and love. Possibly the deepest two tracks on the album, they go hand in hand nicely as a little set piece, giving an extra edge to the more similar sounding songs that have come before.
The last song (Goodbye Lovers And Friends) ends by saying “this really is the end”; hopefully they only mean the end of the album and not the band, as they are back on top form.
It’s true that, when listening in one go, the songs can seem to blur into each other as most feature the same drive and danceable riffs, but that does not mean any of the individual songs are not up to scratch. Perhaps you could listen as I’ve been doing: put the album on repeat for most of the day and you’ll notice different tracks on each play through. There’s a joy that comes with these songs in noticing things that you may not have noticed initially, and there’s lots of be savoured and loved here, despite the whole album’s tiny 35 minute length.