Do not buy the deluxe edition of “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action,” Franz Ferdinand’s latest album.
That advice comes directly from frontman Alex Kapranos.
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Sure, you may be tempted to spend three extra dollars for 13 extra songs, but if you don’t buy the standard 10-track version you’ll be missing the impact of the final phrase that Kapranos sings on “Goodbye Lovers and Friends.”
“Oh no,” he says when he learns from Metro that iTunes is selling a version that features live versions of some of the album’s best tracks and a few old faves. His voice has a descending note of disappointment that is hardly ever heard in his singing. “The album was supposed to end with that last line, ‘goodbye lovers and friends, you can laugh as if we’re still together, but this really is the end.’”
That sounds like the sort of cryptic last line that would be fitting for a band’s swan song, but Kapranos insists that isn’t so.
“We just wanted a definitive ending for the album,” he says, “not for the band.”
“Right Thoughts” is quite the opposite of an ending for the Glasgow quartet. Sonically, it’s a splash of neon upon the dark disco blueprint that initially earned the band acclaim at the turn of this century. Kapranos says it’s because their label let the band to trust their own instincts.
“We were under observation for our second and third records,” he says, “but the label left us alone for this one.”
The album is full of surprises like sunshine pop and even a song that draws from the unlikeliest of influences.
“Oh, you mean ‘Love Illumination,’” asks Kapranos. “Yeah, I could see where you’d think that sounds like ZZ Top.”
But underneath this freedom, and the fun nods to bearded Texans, garage rock keyboards, major chords and lush vocal harmonies that characterize the band’s fourth album, there is something menacing.
A song like “Fresh Strawberries” starts sweetly enough, with Kapranos comparing the human condition to fruits “turning riper in the bowl” but quickly turns to the fruits rotting and the singer professing “I believe there’s nothing to believe.”
As for Kapranos, he says the song is about “searching for an answer,” but he won’t admit whether or not his own worldview is this cynical. He will, however, point out that not everything he sings should be taken at face value. In “Goodbye Lovers and Friends” he begins by singing, “Don’t play pop music, you know I hate pop music.”
“I obviously don’t hate pop music,” says Kapranos.