Franz Ferdinand has released their fourth album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action which, unfortunately, is destined to suffer the same dismal fate as the original Franz Ferdinand himself.

The last time we heard from the Glaswegian indie-rock band was four years ago when they gave us Tonight, arguably their best record. A lot changes in four years and with Franz Ferdinand the change has apparently effected the effortless way they used to make dirty, catchy rock songs.

Let’s get the singles out of the way. The title track is groovy enough and might enjoy some radio airplay, but it lacks the timelessness of some of the band’s previous hits. The lyrics are too straightforward and polite for Franz Ferdinand (a problem that continues throughout the rest of the album).

The other lead single “Love Illumination” fares a little better than “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action”, with a grungier Strokesy guitar arrangement and the exact cheekiness that typifies Franz Ferdinand.

Unfortunately, those are all the highlights on the album. The band does deserve kudos for the cohesion that the whole record seems to have from start to finish.

There aren’t many lowlights either. Just the one bad habit that sort of poisoned all the songs: a lack of ambition. Most of the songs kind of stop right before you expect them to get good while some feel like they could have benefited from a little bit more production and a few are actually gasping for a gutsy bassline.

“Fresh Strawberries”, a three-and-half-minute acid trip that smacks a little of early Beatles, was almost a perfect, easy-breezy tune, but by forgetting that they’re still a British post-garage rock band, Franz Ferdinand ended up with a song most people will only enjoy when they’re getting high.

Similar misses you should just skip through include the utterly confusing “Evil Eye” and the trite “Goodbye Lovers & Friends”. The unlikely salvation of the album is a gem you might overlook at first – the weird and clever “Treason! Animals” which has a danceable hook and a repetitive “boink” spring sound effect that gives you enough silliness to think that there might yet be hope for Franz Ferdinand.

Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action is a combination of average songs that altogether amounts to a slightly above-average record that is not unforgivable, but not tremendous either. With this album, Franz Ferdinand seem to have almost had it, not unlike the band’s eponymous archduke.

Image: www.pitchfork.com

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