Franz Ferdinand is having fun again on "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action" (Domino) and it shows.
In the four years since the Scottish band's "Tonight" album, they have both considered breaking up and completed a joyous artistic rebirth that has resulted in their best work since their massive debut.
That dichotomy drives much of the album, encapsulated in the bittersweet "Fresh Strawberries," where Alex Kapranos declares, "We are fresh strawberries, fresh burst of red strawberries, ripe, turning riper in the bowl . . . We will soon be rotten. We will all be forgotten." The music matches it, with brooding bass lines lightened by sweet harmonies and chipper guitar.
"Love Illumination" starts with a Black Keys-ish, fuzzed-out groove, but it blossoms into a bouncy, horn-filled, good-time chorus. "Stand on the Horizon" balances deep thoughts with a disco breakdown and Kapranos crooning, "Won't you come to me?" like it belongs in Donna Summer's "Hot Stuff."
The first single, "Right Action," pulls together a lot of left-field bits -- Elvis Presley-styled jangling guitar, a Duran Duran bass line and a bit of synth-aided scatting -- into a bold, distinctive sound. "Evil Eye" is equally unexpected, taking the band's slinky dance-rock sound from its "Take Me Out" days and adding some scratch guitar and unconventional chanting.
The surprises keep coming on "Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action," making every song sound fresh again. Franz Ferdinand's near-death experience seems to have led to a life linked to their ability to dream up crazy new scenarios for their songs. So far, so good.
"Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action"
THE GRADE B+
BOTTOM LINE Finding fun in their quirky dance-rock again