It seems odd that a band who caused such fervour upon announcing themselves to the world can create such little excitement when returning after a four year hiatus. Such has been the journey of Franz Ferdinand thus far that the lofty heights of ‘Take Me Out’ are an eternity ago. 2009’s Tonight has been retrospectively cast as a misstep despite its positive reception on release. The album certainly stands out in the catalogue as being a different venture with the band cutting loose and experimenting, alienating a section of their fan base in the process.
Conversely, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is a return to familiar surroundings – a natural successor to You Could Have It So Much Better with catchy hooks, guttural tension and radio friendly pop songs returning after a noted absence. ‘Bullet’ tackles some new territory, taking its cues from 1980s indie idols such as the Pixies, a surf rock edge gives the track a raucous and unique vibe. ‘Evil Eye’ and ‘Right Action’ are Franz Ferdinand at their archetypal best, jagged guitars and catchy hooks. Back to basics, though that is not a problem when the basics are this good. ‘Fresh Strawberries’ is a delight too. The track was played on the short Irish tour the band undertook last May and has shed some pounds in the meantime; its leaner, sunny charm is a welcome addition to the album. Its confident façade masks a darker subject matter that rears its head throughout the album, death and decay. “We will soon be rotten, we will soon all be forgotten.”
Lead single ‘Love Illumination’ failed to catch my attention upon its initial release and little has changed since. It slots inconspicuously into the album, surrounded by much better tracks. Though the brass section is quite a fun addition, it is utilised much better on ‘Stand on the Horizon’. For a band so celebrated for their ability to coin clever and inventive pop music, it all seems a little formulaic. ‘The Universe Expanded’ and ‘Brief Encounters’ for example are promising but never really get going, indicative of the album as a whole.
There are moments reminiscent of the band at their peak almost ten years ago, but it stutters far too often. The love-in for British guitar rock that elevated Franz Ferdinand to superstardom has passed, though it seems as though nobody has told Messrs Kapranos, McCarthy, Hardy and Thomson. It is a pleasant nostalgia trip ten years into the past at times, yet rarely offering anything to excite.