Franz Ferdinand – “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action”

Wikipedia’s result page that comes up when you search for “Franz Ferdinand” sort of says it all:

This is a Scottish band, named after the late archduke of the Austro-Hungarian empire who’s assassination in Sarajevo in 1914 was the match that lit the fuse that became the world’s first truly industrial war, World War I. After four years and 16 million deaths, some dudes in Scotland thought they liked the alliteration of the name, which they original heard in association of a race horse. Allegedly they have indicated that they hope that people will come to associate the name with the band and not the unfortunate archduke. Which is kind of preposterous, since World War I was kind of important, especially if you lived in Europe or caught the Spanish flu in its immediate aftermath.

I’ve had encounters of sorts with both the band and the archduke. Holly and I saw FF live at the Moore Theater in Seattle a number of years ago in what was a pretty decent show, and we’ve also been to the other FF’s former estate and castle in the modern day Czech Republic. It did not occur to me to play some FF music on my iPod while strolling through the grounds of FF’s estate, though I’m sure that move has been pulled many times.

Last month FF (the band) released their fourth album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, and we picked it up on CD last weekend to check it out. I know what some of you are thinking: “Wait a minute. This is a vinyl blog. Why are you buying this on CD?” I almost bought the record, which comes complete with a MP3 download card. But the record, as well as the regular version of the CD, have only 10 songs… whereas the special edition CD (which was cheaper than the vinyl) not only has those same 10 songs, but a second disc that are basically “live” studio versions of eight of the songs, along with five others. In this case my frugality overcame my love for vinyl and we bought the two CD package. And I’m glad we did, because the studio recordings disc was actually better than the album.

The album itself is decent, and it sounds just how you’d expect a FF album to sound given Alex Kapranos’ distinctive voice and pacing. The early songs like “Right Action,” “Evil Eye,” and “Love Illumination” are the best on the album, and they do offer a bit of a different feel than those on previous FF releases. The pace seems to slow down as the album rolls on, however, and by the last three tracks I was left feeling kind of flat and bored. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that both of the tracks from the album that were left off the second CD came from this segment.

The second disc, entitled Right Notes, Right Words, Wrong Order, is the real winner. These unpolished (or at least less polished) studio recordings capture more of the band’s live energy and sound much to their benefit, breathing life into some of the more average tracks and making the good ones spark. Most notable of the older FF songs included is the hit “Do You Want To” which is great.

Franz Ferdinand fans will like Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action, but more casual fans (like me) will probably like the bonus CD even more – so if you’re going to shell out your hard earned cash, pick up the two disc version. And please, don’t forget the archduke. Those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat it, after all, both in music and in war.

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