January 29, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 38°F


Review: Ferdinand fails to deliver “Right Words”

Franz Ferdinand "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action"

Scottish band Franz Ferdinand has always had the knack of sustaining the traditions of its rock ’n’ roll benefactors, while seducing today’s generation with its dark wit and playful banter. The dance-rock group’s fourth studio album, “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action,” manages to maintain its appeal but falls short of delivering an awe-striking performance.

Most songs continue with the punk and new wave sounds the group experimented with in the last album, “Blood,” but manage to add an old-school feel. The influence of iconic punk bands is apparent. Tracks like “Evil Eye” and “Love Illumination” sound heavily Clash-inspired, integrating Franz Ferdinand’s familiar sharp guitar riffs and upbeat drum tempo that created a whole new category within the rock genre itself. The mixture of organs and singer Alex Kapranos’ Morrison-esque vocals in “The Universe Expanded” and “Brief Encounters” stay true to the sinister roots of The Doors. This eclectic sound does not, however, cover up Ferdinand’s original blend of lively beats and its lyrics’ sexual undertones, but rather becomes a modernist mixture of alternative rock.

Lyrically, “Right Words” continues to incorporate themes of romantic longing, fatal attractions and difficult goodbyes but struggles in breaking the band’s mold of moody, broken-hearted punk. Phrases like “We will soon be rotten/ We will all be forgotten” in “Fresh Strawberries” fail to hold much emotional context other than hopelessness and temperamental angst. Franz Ferdinand doesn’t deliver much other than a three-minute statement of a desire to be loved. While this subject matter is easily relatable for those of us with bad luck in the romance department, it’s hard to find anything other than material meaning and a layer of clichéd metaphors.

Much like an annoyingly catchy pop tune, “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action” comes across as a never-ending repetition of choruses and hooks. This track manages to repeat the chorus so often that hardly any room is left for actual meaning in the lyrics. With the repetition in instruments and vocals, the song is designed to be background noise and nothing more.

“Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action” will appeal to newer fans of the band. Yet, as far as veteran followers go, listeners will be somewhat disappointed in learning that Franz Ferdinand hasn’t quite gotten over its bleeding-heart pop-punk phase or matured with its diehard fans.