Highlights: Evil Eye, Love Illumination, Fresh Strawberries, Goodbye Lovers & Friends
To quote "Treason! Animals.", this album’s grooviest song, ‘Something has really, really gone wrong’. Perhaps it’s rather too easy to be cynical when talking about Alex Kapranos. But while I’m all for being cynical when cynicism is justified, I can’t quite bring myself to it in this case. Too sad. I mean, two irresistible dance/punk albums in rapid succession: 2004 and 2005. Then a patchy foray into electronic sounds in 2009. Mind the gap! And now (2013, no less) a timid, brief reminder of those glorious beginnings. Four years, and this is not exactly a French revolution. It’s a half-hour indie rock album, for Christ’s sake.
However, creative and artistic stagnation can be disregarded for 35 minutes; Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action (you really hate long titles, don’t you?) is a good album. Possibly the best they could do at this point. The relative brevity is in fact a good sign: it shows they strived for consistency. Right Thoughts is essentially a tight collection of infectious punk songs that will make Ivy Leaguers dance and rock critics cry the bittersweet tears of premature nostalgia. All good, whichever way you look at it – physical or intellectual. Not that I will get fooled: place any of these songs alongside stuff like “Walk Away”, “This Fire” or even “Ulysses” and you will see exactly where we are at this point.
And yet rubbishing a song like “Evil Eye” and then blasting “Take Me Out” at full volume wouldn’t make too much sense either. Because Alex Kapranos can still pen a big catchy tune. Because Alex Kapranos still has it. This ‘it’ is not that impressive anymore, but he held on to this ‘it’ and reminded us why they have once been such a sensation. I almost wanted to give this one a high 7, but then “Goodbye Lovers & Friends” started playing and… I don’t know. Maybe this really is the end. And maybe Alex does hate pop music so damn much.