Originally published in the AU Review.
Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action speaks like a wry, introspective commentary on the current position of the Glasgow indie rockers. 10 years after the staggering success of their debut eponymous LP, Franz Ferdinand’s fourth album strongly insinuates the inevitable end of a well-worn out band.
Take a look at the cover art. The capitalised letters and aggressive arrows are reminiscent of those old Soviet propaganda posters. RIGHT THOUGHTS, RIGHT WORDS, RIGHT ACTION are directed one way, while a tiny arrow emblazoned with the name FRANZ FERDINAND is directed in another. Hmm. It could be implying that Franz Ferdinand, consciously aware, are refusing to go in the right direction with this album. Perhaps they have accepted their limitations and have orchestrated this new record as a means of manifesting their awareness as a musically stale band. Or, maybe they are reinforcing their value as a left-field, indie outfit. It is ambiguous and cryptic. However, the one thing that is clear are the audacious and resigned messages that lie within the record.
In Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, Franz Ferdinand have moved away from the synth-driven, ‘pop’ aesthetic of their predecessor Tonight: Franz Ferdinand and reverted back to the guitar-driven, dance-friendly sound that made us fall in love with their debut and sophomore so many years ago. Their debut will always be placed on a ridiculously high pedestal, making it almost impossible to rank any other Franz album anywhere near it. This one tries hard, it really does. The return to its comfort zone should be commended, but unfortunately, most of the tracks sound like lost Franz Ferdinand ones. “Right Action” gets prematurely excited, reaching its climax too early with signature Franz guitar work. Once it rounds the chorus, it flops – with nowhere else to go.
Although similar stylistically to their early work, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action speaks existentially about the band’s legacy and inevitable demise. In “Fresh Strawberries,” vocalist Alex Kapranos bitterly laments about the unavoidable existence of the fruit, a metaphor that contains a more sinister insinuation about the band itself, “We are fresh strawberries/Fresh burst of red strawberries/Ripe turning riper in the pole/We will soon be rotten/We will all be forgotten/Half remembered rumours of the old.” Kapranos uses strawberries brilliantly here as a personification of the past and future position of the band.
This bold message is further explored in “Goodbye Lovers and Friends,” the final track which is impossible to misinterpret. The title is evidence enough, however it is the lyrics contained within that provide a naked insight into the consciousness of the band. “Goodbye Lovers and Friends/It’s so sad to leave you” and “You can laugh as if we are still together/But this really is the end” reads as a resigned final farewell to the fans and friends of Franz Ferdinand.
Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is a courageous suicide letter – a farewell note acknowledging the exhausted limitations and final chapter of the 21st century indie pioneers Franz Ferdinand. The music within this album will probably be forgotten, but the bold statements made by the band won’t be. However, like fellow British post-punk collective Arctic Monkeys, Franz are a fan of tongue-in-cheek lyricism and it is this traditional cheek that makes one wonder if they are simply pulling our legs – trying to make us believe in the illusion that this will be their final album. Who knows right? What we do know is that Franz have exhausted their signature sound and this fourth installment is a clear manifestation of that.
Review Score: 7.2 out of 10