As the title of their new album suggests, the Scottish band Franz Ferdinand returned from a four-year hiatus with conviction. Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions drives through tracks with simple marching beats and a distinctive new-wave, postpunk sound reminiscent of Bauhaus.
The single “Right Actions” kicks off the album with the same feel-good flavor of “Take Me Out,” and is by far the most upbeat track of the album. Although the band stay true to their core sound, Alex Kapranos’ sleazy glam voice slides back and forth between musical styles.
Kapranos has said that the album “deals with the cynic’s search for optimism” and the process of coming out of one’s shell. Lyrics such as “Never get this bullet out of my head now” certainly carry a tinge of cynicism. However, the band greet differing musical styles with strong optimism by equating them with their original sound and connecting them seamlessly. Although in the closing track, “Goodbye Lovers & Friends,” they proclaim, “Don’t play pop music. You know I hate pop music.”
The album swings from Rocky Horror Picture Show to disco dance to the Beatles and back. “Evil Eye” starts out with a menacing scream and soon slips into an ’80s horror movie. The album’s fourth track, “Stand on the Horizon,” quickly turns into mirror balls and Saturday Night Fever. And then there is “Fresh Strawberries,” which evokes the early Beatles.
Franz Ferdinand tackle these styles with confidence, but they always return to their roots of postpunk, cynicism and sex. Tracks including “Love Illumination” and “Treason! Animals.” harbor erotically charged lyrics. Kapranos seductively sings, “Some people get a freak outta me,” “Sweet, sweet love elevation . . . sweet, sweet love celebration,” and, “I’m in love with a narcissist and I know what the mirror told me.”
Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions is the type of album that seems strange at first, but then grows on you. Initially, it sounds a bit slapdash with so many styles fit into one album, but the more you listen to it, the more it melds and makes sense.