Monday, September 9, 2013

Franz Ferdinand: Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions

Franz Ferdinand's new album comes to me as a breath of fresh of air. It actively excites me. It carries a verve and spirit that sets it apart from the current crop of rock acts. I say this because this is my third draft of this review and in the previous two I was driven to tangents complaining breathlessly about things I don't like about other bands. But none of that's important because what I do like is this album.

Franz has concocted an effective new batch of their particularly dance-tinged, kinetic rock music. It feels right to me, like they didn't need to study up on how to sound like themselves, or work too hard to infuse their music with obvious hooks. Working too hard is the enemy of rock music. You can get bogged down. Instead, this music contains a lot, does a lot, has a lot of ideas, but is never overworked or overly tidy. It's messy and beautifully imperfect: Alex Kapranos' voice sounds a bit thinner and wavers more, almost like a karaoke singer who's had a few. I feel like if you isolated the vocal track to this album you would be mostly unimpressed with the efforts. But he's from the David Byrne school of histrionics, and its his energy that really sells it, definitely matching the overall calamitous musical atmosphere. Altogether, the band plays with an unstudied ease that would be at home in any era: they retain the timeless immediacy of their earlier singles. It takes balls to be this unpolished. It retains a character and humour about itself, while never getting tripped up and leaving the moment behind. "Right Action" is one of the bassiest, self-assured singles I've heard this year.

It all comes out thrillingly because they know the difference between "a fun pattern" and "mind-numbingly repetitive." There are enough change-ups, as in the melancholic "Stand on the Horizon," the easy-breezy croon of "Fresh Strawberries," and the motor-mouthed "Bullet," which all come one after another. Some of the intros kid the listener, but gradually unfold the song to reveal how it works with the rest of the album. It all adds up to a really consistent listen. You can put this whole album on a loop at your next party and never have the energy falter. I just love this energy. You can't teach this. You can't fake it. You can only hope it comes out the way it's meant to when you're done making it.

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