Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action is the album Franz Ferdinand should have made after their self-titled debut. Not that You Could Have It So Much Better and Tonight didn't have their charms; the former showed there was more breadth and depth to their music than might have been expected, while the latter delved into dub and disco with intriguing, if somewhat unfocused results. Still, neither album had Franz Ferdinand's impact. On Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action, it often feels like the band channeled the energy they used to spend on expanding their sound into making this the most concentrated burst of what attracted fans to them in the first place. "Right Action" sets the tone, seemingly curbing the experimental tendencies of Franz's past two albums in favor of angular guitars and alternately snazzy and sleazy brass. Like most of the band's best songs, there's a slightly meta quality to its tale of getting back into a lover's -- or listener's -- good graces, but instead of offering apologies, Alex Kapranos and company launch a charm offensive (later, Kapranos beckons a lover to cross the North Sea with a gorgeous Owen Pallett-string arrangement on "Stand on the Horizon"). "Right Action" is undeniably catchy -- it might even be the band's most immediate single since the song that started it all, "Take Me Out" -- yet the sly sitars on its bridge show that Franz Ferdinand have learned to use their left-of-center ideas as embellishments rather than the focus. Honed to a ten-song-length tailor-made for repeat listening, Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action is even tighter and more toe-tapping than Franz Ferdinand. Some songs feel like direct descendants of the band's debut: "Evil Eye" gives the gut-punching beats of "Take Me Out" a campy twist with mischievous keyboards destined to make it the coolest song on the Halloween party playlist. "Bullet" is a kissing cousin to "Cheating on You"'s breezily cruel pop, though it's important to note that despite leaving, Kapranos just can't get his beloved out of his head. This kind of emotional complexity -- not to mention the fun the band sound like they're having -- saves the album from being a too-calculated return to Franz' glory days. Even the brashest moments, like "Treason! Animals." and "Love Illumination" are uneasy at the core, and there's a surprising amount of poetic beauty to the love-in-reverse song "The Universe Expanded" as well as "Fresh Strawberries" and "Brief Encounters," all of which explore how important it is to seize and enjoy the moment -- something the band does with style and heart throughout the album. Right Thoughts Right Words Right Action is a welcome return, fusing a crowd-pleasing sound with some of Franz Ferdinand's most interesting songwriting. Track for track, it may very well be the group's most satisfying album yet.
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares