When a musician becomes relevant in the music industry, the piece of work that got them to that point, whether it is a single or an album, is remembered forever. Think Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl," Vampire Weekend's "M79" and Franz Ferdinand's "Take Me Out."
The catchy single that was released off Franz Ferdinand's self-titled freshman album in 2004 not only broke them into the music industry, but also had the band topping charts in North America and their native country, the UK.
"Take Me Out" was a new and original sound nearly 10 years ago. Indie rock was still a developing genre, and, at the time, college-aged students did not follow it like they do today. Franz Ferdinand released this single, along with an artsy music video that was featured on MTV for weeks, and they became "the" indie rock band of the moment. That album was a success and set the bar high, to say the least.
"Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action," Franz Ferdinand's latest album released Aug. 27, falls below the bar of the band's initial success. Their unique sound of 2004 is only duplicated, replicated and imitated on this album by, guess who, its own original creators. The 10 tracks featured on "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action" could easily have fit into the band's discography years ago, as it barely deviates from their usual sound.
In many ways, Franz Ferdinand is only playing it safe. Their last album, "Tonight: Franz Ferdinand," released in 2009 and had mixed reviews all over the board. Although it did pretty well for an indie rock album, it did not do as well as the competition, i.e. fellow indie band peers like the aforementioned Vampire Weekend and the more electronic-influenced Phoenix.
The four years in which the band stayed quiet in the industry seemed to have left them afraid to reevaluate their sound. Songs like "Evil Eye" and "The Universe Expanded" are lazy and boring to any listener who is familiar with their previous work. Instead of attempting to create something new, it is almost as if the 4-man-band dug through their trash bins from previous albums and cobbled together a few usable tracks, uniting them with a new album title.
Most of the songs off "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action" seem to blend in with the rest of the band's body of work, but particular elements stand out as being signature, go-to techniques for Franz Ferdinand. Lead singer Alex Kapranos has an interesting voice, yet it falls flat and barely extends beyond one scale. Of course, this is characteristic of the band. But this album contains major themes of cynicism and lovelorn heartbreak, while the emotionless Kapranos gives no credit to the crafted lyrics.
In the first single off the album "Love Illumination," Kapranos dully sings "When you're happy from a dream / Is it hard to work out what is real ... It's a black pool, bright light / Brighter than the light in your home," leaving the song short of its full potential.
If a more animated range was in place of Kapranos, there is no doubt that listeners would feel more interested and invested in the music and its message. Additionally on "Love Illumination" is the typical, riffed guitar whose tune stays steady throughout all three minutes of the track.
The other single off the album, "Right Action," and the track "Bullet" are solid songs, yet they are expected of Franz Ferdinand. They contain the two verses, a bridge and a chorus, along with the formulaic guitar riffs and the accompanying invisible drums that are barely heard.
The rhythm Franz Ferdinand created has led to their ultimate demise. They broke out onto the scene with something excitingly new not that long ago. Yet with their lack of work and their failure to remain relevant in the time in between, their music has gotten stale, stagnant. Just like a forgotten loaf of bread on the kitchen counter.
It is not unheard of for artists to fall criminal to this common misdemeanor, but as proven by "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action," Franz Ferdinand is guilty of releasing a new album without creating new music.