Vinyl Review: Franz Ferdinand – Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (Deluxe Passport Edition)
When Franz Ferdinand burst onto the scene in the early-2000s, many critics were eager to group them into the then-hot post-punk revival scene that included bands like The White Stripes, The Hives, The Strokes and The Vines. However, such a comparison was unjust, or at the very least too broad. First of all, the very idea of “post-punk revival” being a genre is in itself vague and inaccurate, because “post-punk” was also a vague and inaccurate genre. The Talking Heads were considered post-punk, so were Blondie, Joy Division and Public Image Ltd. There are some loose common threads there for sure, but what the hell do Joy Division and Blondie have in common? About as much as The White Stripes and Franz Ferdinand do – which is not much at all.
Regardless of the justification behind their genre classification, Franz Ferdinand have certainly proven to be more consistent and durable than many of their early-00s post-punk brethren. The White Stripes broke up, The Hives have fallen out of popular favor (unfortunately), The Strokes self-destructed at their creative peak and have yet to recover, and the less we speak of The Vines the better. Franz Ferdinand have stuck around, mainly because of their ability to release one solid album after another, with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action being no exception.
Toning down the electronic elements from their previous album Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, Right Thoughts… is a much more manic and fast-paced release, with a heavy dab of influence from mid-80s new wave (not post-punk). Upbeat, dance-friendly guitar licks straight out of a great Cars album populate stellar tracks like “Bullet” and the lead single “Right Action,” and the majority of the album has a great bass groove that would work great if the band decides to remix it as a dub record like they did with Tonight.
The band is touting this release as a return to the sound off of their first album, and I can hear that a bit, but I think it’s a bit more complex and varied. Of course, that comes with a slight trade-off: while Right Thoughts… really doesn’t have a weak track on it, there aren’t any showstoppers either. No “Ulysses,” no “Take Me Out,” no “Do You Want To.” It’s consistently solid, but it never soars over-the-top. Of course, that being said, in 10 years it’ll probably be considered to be the “fan’s favorite” album where all the amazing deep cuts are, so who knows.
If you go out to buy this album now, either through traditional retailers or online, your options are limited to a single LP or CD edition. However, if you go to Domino Records’ official website, you can snag a 2CD Deluxe Edition that includes a bonus disc entitled Right Notes, Right Words, Wrong Order, a live-in-studio album recorded at Konk Studios. The 2LP version with that bonus disc is now out-of-stock, and I don’t know if it will be re-issued, so if you do see it out in the wild somewhere at retail price and you want it, I would snag it ASAP. The vinyl version is certainly mastered better than the CD.
One version of the album that you can no longer get no matter what is the “Deluxe Passport Edition.” They only put out 500 copies of these, and I was lucky enough to snag one, which includes:
- The album Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action on both CD and high-quality heavyweight vinyl.
- The live album album Right Notes, Right Words, Wrong Order, also on both CD and vinyl.
- Very snazzy packaging for both the CD and LP.
- A transparent pink 7″ single with the album cuts “Right Action” and “Love Illumination”
- A standard 7″ single with live versions of “Tell Her Tonight” and “Outside.”
- The North Sea, a 12″ single with two extended remixes by Todd Terje (“Stand On The Horizon” and “Evil Eye”)
- Four postcards with messages from the band.
Download codes for everything (save for the live 7″ tracks for some reason) are also included, as ia a membership to Franz Ferdinand’s Drip.fm page, which is occasionally updated with news, video clips, and other exclusive bits.
All this wasn’t cheap, it cost me $85, and almost $100 after shipping. So was it worth it?
Well, it was for the most part. It certainly feels like it’s worth that much, the packaging is really top of the line, nice and thick and substantial. All the vinyl sounds great too, heavy-duty and very clean. The extra material is a bit lacking, however. The bonus disc Right Notes, Right Words, Wrong Order is interesting, but it’s just the band playing in the studio. There’s no crowd interaction, no vamping, no added energy. There isn’t enough here to really differentiate the performances on the disc from the original studio versions, with the notable exception being “Can’t Stop Feeling” which includes an interpolation of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love” used to great effect.
While Right Notes… is a bit of a wash, I am seriously enjoying The North Sea, the 12″ single with the extended mixes of “Stand On The Horizon” and “Evil Eye.” These are long mixes (seven to eight minutes each) and both deconstruct the original tracks, transforming them into dub-heavy monsters. As a 12″ remix fanatic, I think these are awesome, I could see others being a bit bored by them though.
No matter what incarnation of the album you get, if you like Franz Ferdinand you should be pleased by this release. It doesn’t have any showstoppers or future-classics, but it’s a solid set of fast-paced, fun rock tunes, which are few and far between these days.