Emerging from a mid-00s British indie-rock scene which was obsessed with either ‘lighters in the air’ emotionally manipulative ballads (Snow Patrol, Athlete) or laddish Saturday night odes that sounded like leftovers from the ‘Cool Britannia‘ era (Kaiser Chiefs, Hard-Fi), Scottish quartet Franz Ferdinand stuck out like a sore thumb with their artsy Talking Heads-esque production and spiky sardonic tales of doomed romance.
Returning from a four-year break, the band’s fourth studio album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, proves Alex Kapranos and co. remain as playfully subversive and as delightfully twisted as ever. While the stream-of-consciousness ramblings of a narcissistic schizophrenic (“Treason! Animals“) and a paranoid individual convinced he’s trapped in a real-life Hammer Horror (“Evil Eye“) up the weird ante, the follow-up to 2009’s Tonight: Franz Ferdinand is arguably just as unsettling when it’s tackling less outlandish themes of wedded domesticity, unrequited love and the meaning of life. Few bands make “music for girls to dance to” so peculiar.
Possessing a similarly infectious indie-disco swagger as “Take Me Out,” the album’s opener sees Kapranos attempt to persuade a lover who has done him wrong to come back home whilst at the same time muttering under his breath that past events are neither forgiven nor forgotten: [LISTEN]
Resembling a post-punk take on a Scooby Doo soundtrack, the tight funk rhythms, spiky guitars and eerie theramins of “Evil Eye” help provide a groovy backdrop to a paranoid ramble from a troubled soul who doesn’t believe in God but does believe in crawling creatures no one else can see: [LISTEN]
Featuring a Jack White-esque scuzzy guitar hook and a carnival-friendly burst of giddy organs and horn blasts, Kapranos tries to encourage someone who desperately wants to be loved to settle for his charms with the claim he has a heart that’s as brightly lit as Blackpool Tower: [LISTEN]
Venturing further into “Funkytown,” Kapranos claims that the North Sea is willing him and the lost loved one he’s mistreated to reunite. But his stubborn refusal to apologize for his wrong words, wrong thoughts and wrong actions suggests that the waters are rooting for a lost cause: [LISTEN]
Using Wimbledon’s favorite fruit as a metaphor, Kapranos wishes he could believe in something which would make the fleetingness of life easier to swallow on a deceptively bleak number which blends the surf-pop harmonies of The Beach Boys with the classic Britpop of The Kinks: [LISTEN]
Cranking up the pace with an explosive burst of 70s-inspired garage rock, Kapranos adds a vindictive eye, a vendetta in his bones and a yellow jealousy to his list of faults on a self-imposed character assassination which suggests the bullet lodged in his brain was fired there for a reason: [LISTEN]
Backing up Kapranos’ judgement that “something has really gone wrong here,” the slightly absurd “Treason! Animals” deals with a schizophrenic self-appointed king of the jungle who relies on a talking mirror to determine whether he’s in love with either a narcissist, nemesis or pharmacist: [LISTEN]
Giving Christopher Nolan a run for his money, Kapranos narrates a Memento-meets-Inception tale of a reverse-travelling, parallel universe-straddling relationship where love letters are sent back, poses are held after the photo’s been taken and laughs arrive before the punchline: [LISTEN]
Literally swinging into ska-pop territory, the sordid “Brief Encounters” focuses on a bored, young and married couple who decide to attend the kind of cul-de-sac-based party where car keys are placed in a bowl in a last-ditch effort to spice up their sexless life; [LISTEN].
Perhaps referencing their previous scrapped sessions with Girls Aloud‘s hit factory Xenomania, Kapranos sneers that he hates pop music on a bitter and venemous tribal-tinged farewell whose “this is the end“ final line mischievously keeps the band’s future up in the air: [LISTEN]