Reviewed by Meghan Player
You know that band that you listened to in high school? The band that became part of the soundtrack of your teenage years? The band that saw you through the best and worst of times, and that you continued to follow into adulthood – relishing in the opportunity to get nostalgic every time you throw on their old albums? For me, Franz Ferdinand were one of those bands.
When ‘Take Me Out’ first caught my attention in 2004, the band were fresh, exciting and a far cry from any other band on the scene. They combined the quintessential British pomp of the Beatles or SoCal sweetness of the Monkees, with a clean-cut mod persona and attitude that made them unique, and above all, interesting.
Now, 9 years and three albums later – the Glaswegian four-piece are set to release their fourth studio album, ‘Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action‘ – a defining chapter in the bands diverse history.
Opening track, and first single, ‘Right Action‘ is an absolute feast for the ears. The familiar, yet refreshing melody calls out to the listener, making you want to drop what you’re doing and dance. Double-time. Undoubtedly, it’s the prolific songwriting that threatens to steal the show, with frontman Alex Kapranos crooning, ‘...sometimes I wish you were here, weather permitting…” before launching into another infectious chorus.
While only the second track in, ‘Evil Eye’ establishes itself as an early favourite on the album – offering a darker, slightly more haunting melody then it’s counterpart. The infectious, underlying pop sensibility is still present, as the track builds into a sinister-sounding bridge section that whirrs and whistles like a laboratory experiment.
‘Love Illumination‘ takes the bands sound ambition to a new level, with the album switching tempo and style once again. In the grand scheme of things, the track is undoubtedly the heaviest sound the band have created over the years – pursuing the darker, quirkier style that filters throughout the rest of the album.
As if to lure you into a dream-like state, ‘Fresh Strawberries‘ blends a borderline psychedelic chorus with a light-hearted, carefree melody that instantly begs long days of Summer sun. Strikingly, it’s this contrast in sound – the dark melodies clashing with the light – that drives the album forward, offering the listener something new with each track changeover.
‘Treason! Animals’ crosses to the dark side once again, while ‘The Universe Expanded’ lulls us once more into a dream like state. “…unbake a cake…” Kapranos almost swoons, as if we’ve joined the Beatles Magical Mystery Tour, and everything odd or off-centre, suddenly seems to make perfect sense.
As the final bars of ‘Goodbye Lovers & Friends’ rings out of the speakers, it’s almost like you’ve reached the end of a journey – a musical experiment in light and shade, with a dash of colour and unabashed intrigue. “…but this really is the end…” the track tells, as you’re forced into the reality of your surroundings once again.
Undoubtedly, this is Franz Ferdinand’s most intriguing, unique and ambitious album to date. The perfect balance of infectious pop and dark, haunting melodies is brilliantly executed by the band – and a true testament to their unique ability to craft some of the most infectious and thought-provoking songs of our time.
Thank you Franz Ferdinand – you’ve done it again.