So Franz Ferdinand are back, and we can all breathe a sigh of relief. For closing in on a decade, the Scottish lads have been indie rock frontrunners, without ever feeling tired or contrived. They’re one of the biggest bands in their genre, but in many ways, it’s hard to really pinpoint just how. They’ve only got a few proper hits under their belt, but they’ve got more than enough anthems to fill a setlist with and still have some to spare. It just seems that ever since “Take Me Out,” we’ve just never had any reason not to love them and their dance grooves, definitive machine gun guitar sound, and throbbing bass. Not to mention, Alex Kapranos is one of the most endearing frontmen in rock. Now, after four years of waiting, Franz Ferdinand is back with their fourth studio album, titled Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. To kickstart the release, the boys decided to simultaneously release two songs announcing, “Right Action is the new single! Love Illumination is the new single!” This isn’t a double a-side release, nor can we really treat the two tracks as direct peers and complete equals, but in an interesting move, Franz Ferdinand are giving us a pair of different tunes that catapult us over the threshold into their new era, as opposed to the tiny steps over we’d have to take if they came out one at a time.
The more or less title track to their upcoming fourth album is everything you’d expect from a lead Franz Ferdinand single. It’s a refined breed of danceable rock with memorable hooks and lyrics that only partly make sense. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that they’re the modern day Talking Heads, but it would certainly be a fair comparison. “Right Action” almost feels like they’re not going for gold in quite the same way they were when they unleashed “Ulysses,” the lead track from their previous studio album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, but instead like they’re relying on their ability to set up camp in our memories to make the single work. There’s no denying how addictive the track is, and despite how comfortable it feels, it’s still Franz Ferdinand doing what they do best. New territory? No, but it’s just further proof that the Scottish quartet are still one of the best indie bands in the world today.
Although “Love Illumination” doesn’t quite have the same single appeal as “Right Action,” it is actually the stronger of the two releases. The track is far more authoritative and captivating, with soulful horn sounds juxtaposing comfortably with their searing electric guitars and dance beat. “Love Illumination” is clearly prepped and ready for the live arena, where it will no doubt become a staple for them, but on record still manages to capture a gleam of that raw energy they give off so powerfully in concert. The track is certainly going to play second fiddle to “Right Action,” but it brings so much to the table that it was smartly promoted from “b-side status” to stand alone release. It would be far from convincing if it were the lead single, but it prevents any notion that Franz Ferdinand are recycling or uninspired from entering our minds. It’s a killer track.