Notes: Franz Ferdinand @ Echoplex, July 30, 2013
Franz Ferdinand are back. Not that they ever completely went away (they’re a constant presence on the festival circuit) but with Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action due August 27, their first new album since ‘09, there does seem to be a renewed sense of purpose and energy about the band and some fresh excitement in the fanbase.
Already in town to shoot a video and do promo (KCRW, Conan), the guys graced us with a gratis performance at Echoplex, a room far smaller than their usual LA stop. Over a condensed show of dozen tunes, they remind you that they really are a world class act, both in chops and performance.
Up front, Alex and Nick on guitars/vocals are in good form and style, the latter even attempting a stage dive while playing; Paul and Bob lock down the rhythms steadily. They drew a lot from the new album, songs across a bit wider spectrum while still easily identifiable as Franz Ferdinand. New singles “Right Action” and “Love Illumination” especially pop. The prior, a playful two note groove with a touch of Beatles in the top line; the latter, built on a fuzzy riff with teeth, like something Arctic Monkeys might pull off. A new slower number “Fresh Strawberries” feels like a lost Kinks classic. They managed to devote a third of the set to tracks from their debut LP, those early monster hooks, including the eternal “Take me out,” rewarding long time fans while also reminding the casual lookieloos at the back: hey, we’re the ones with all these great tunes from way back you should remember.
On first airing, the new record sounds like the most evolved version yet of the style they’ve been working since their debut (speaking of which, coming up on a decade old, feels more and more like an early 00’s classic, deserving to be slotted alongside Turn on the bright lights and Is this it). That is, expanding on their early garage/disco/post punk style to incorporate more textures and more complex, dense arrangements. They’ve managed to maintain that youthful energy and toughness while weaving in subtle melodies and allowing some space in the songs. It’s their widest palette of sounds yet, and feels more organic and confident in general. Here’s to Franz finally “breaking out” in the States after only 10 or so years.