Franz Ferdinand (the band, not the centennially-assassinated archduke) were a breath of fresh air for me when they stormed onto the scene over ten years ago. Indie rock was wallowing around in an introspective stupor with only the likes of British Sea Power and their wondrous live performances to offer any solace. And then came the opening riff of Take Me Out…
I’m planning on adding a few thoughts regarding their first three albums over the next few weeks (I’m always bang up to date with my musical opinion) but for now here’s my take on their latest album. Only half a year after it was released. I’ve also patented a scoring system which already has several obvious pitfalls to it but quite frankly I don’t give a monkeys. It hinges on my view that great albums can be listened to in their entirety without having to reach for the skip button / press fast forward / move the stylus (delete as per your music media of choice). Therefore each track will be followed by a declaration of skip or repeat. Yeah….
Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions
Right Action opens up the album and is a confident return to the riff heavy merriment of Take Me Out and Do You Wanna? from their debut and sophomore albums respectively. Apparently the opening line “come home practically all is nearly forgiven” is lifted from a postcard that Alex Kapranos found in a flea market and never fails to elicit a smile from yours truly and has encouraged me to scour bric a brac emporiums for similar inspiration (nowt yet, sniff). Bob Hardy’s gloriously dirty bass line goes down as one of 2013’s musical highlights. Definitely a repeat.
Evil Eye peers at you next and was one of last year’s biggest surprises, largely due to the fact it was featured on an advert for Nissan with the line “it’s red ya bastard” intact. Apparently complaints were made to the ASA and largely ignored, showing that the authority appreciate a snappy pop song just as much as the next person (plus bastard was uttered on Radio 4 before midday the other day so if it’s okay by that bastion of Reithian decency it should be alright for a car maker). Repeat!
Love Illumination features yet another classic FF riffs and is relentless in its pure pop magic. It even features a nifty guitar solo in the middle. Lovely stuff! Repeat.
Stand on the Horizon may well be the highlight of the album. Wonderfully complex for a snip over four minute pop song, it features Mr Kapranos serenading a loved one across the North Sea with a subtle but emotional string section accompanying him. Repeat (twice).
I really dislike the opening few lines of Fresh Strawberries, based purely on my disdain for songs that talk about food either in the metaphorical or culinary sense. It soon redeems itself by launching into a catchy chorus which makes the comparisons to punnets of fruit bearable. Repeat.
Bullet and Treason! Animals could be seen as a return to the crash-bangy moments of Cheating On You et al, and for this reason might be viewed as a cynical riposte to those that found the poppy excesses of their last album Tonight a bit unconvincing. Personally I’m far too positive in my outlook in life for such cynicism and find them to respectively be a catchy paean to a lost love and a song that for many months I thought to be about a pharmacist (it’s not). Repeat REPEAT!
The Universe Expanded begins the gentle ending to the album and forlornly describes a relationship in reverse. It’s also rather beautiful. REPEAT (in reverse).
Brief Encounters checks in with the young lovers featured throughout Tonight and finds them bored in their cul de sac, with only a fruit bowl and a set of car keys to spice up their bland existence. It’s clearly a nostalgic look back to the last century, as its roadside laybys where all the action is at these days. Or so I’ve read somewhere. Repeat.
The album closes with Goodbye Lovers and Friends and shows the band laid out bare. The opening line “don’t play pop music, you know I hate pop music” could well be a reference back to the sniffy reaction to Tonight (I loved it Franz, by the way). It also ends with a line that made this listener do a rare double take at his music box. I can only hope that their declaration that “this really is the end” is sung in jest because with Right Thoughts… Messrs Kapranos, McCarthy, Hardy and Thomson have crafted perhaps the finest indie rock album of whatever this decade is called (the 2010s? The teenies? Answers on a postcard, please). Repeat.
So how does the album score using my totez amazing scoring system? Well thanks to some truly mind scrambling maths that Rachel Riley taught me in a dream, I divide the number of repeats by the total number of tracks to create what I call a “percentage”. I think it’ll catch on!
Overall repeat-me-do score: 100%