“Come home, practically all is nearly forgiven.” The first words on Franz Ferdinand’s new album, “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action” are pulled straight from a postcard that frontman Alex Kapranos found at a flea market.
Delving through strangers’ private correspondence is in no way out of character for the deceptively fresh-faced Scotsman. Kapranos is equal parts unquenchable curiosity and unstoppable passion, a combination that gives him an unabashed and indiscriminate interest in the world around him. Love, heartbreak, religion, death; Kapranos turns his unflinching attention on each in turn, never satisfied with an easy answer. It is this sense of perpetual restlessness which permeates Franz’ new album.
“Right Thoughts…” is an album about questions, both unanswered and unanswerable. Kapranos doesn’t believe in easy answers and he certainly doesn’t hand any out to his listeners. The singer makes it a point to never discuss his private life to the public, leaving the stories he weaves wide open for anyone to step into. The songs from “Right Thoughts…” become collaboration between artist and audience to cobble together a deeper significance, the listeners adding feelings and experiences to Franz Ferdinand’s excellently turned phrases. Anyone listening can so easily become the smiling madman asking for a manual to life, the forlorn wanderer looking for something to hold onto, the “proudest man in the world” who can’t admit he’s wrong to the one he loves the most.
Luckily for listeners, “Right Thoughts…” is also an album about dancing. Franz Ferdinand has proudly stuck to its dance rock roots, brandishing its live instruments in a world turning ever-increasingly to the electronic. The album shows progress without losing any of the frenzied energy from previous work. There are still a few pleasant surprises; “Fresh Strawberries” is an existential crisis swathed in a sweet little retro-pop wrapper. Other tracks fizzle with ominous lyrics, accompanied by coolly sinister melodies that are unsettling in the most deeply satisfying way.
Franz manages to wrap the album up at exactly the level of morbidity you’d expect from a band that once used human bone as an instrument. “Goodbye Lovers and Friends” is framed as a set of rather finicky dictations from a dead man at his own funeral, set to a tune I’d like to call “a peppy dirge.” “Right Thoughts…”closes with the line “This really is the end.” As the last chords fade out, I find myself hoping that’s not the case.
Franz had a lot to prove 10 years out from the success of their last studio release, and as far as I’m concerned, the band outstripped every expectation. Franz Ferdinand is still very clearly capable of turning out its distinct brand of discordant love songs, electrifying dance tunes and everything in between. Franz Ferdinand tackles “Right Thoughts…” with the same passion and ingenuity that put the band in the public eye years ago, and it proves that they deserve to stay there for some time to come.