This is how they return. Not with a whimper, but with a bang. Franz Ferdinand are back; a state of affairs which seemed pretty unlikely, given the general air of malaise which accompanied their last record. Or at least, it seemed unlikely that they’d return in any form other than as a vehicle to pay off mortgages, with ‘reunion’ somewhere in the description.
But here they are, with a new album. A gloriously enjoyable new album, which gets a fair old airing here at Brixton’s Electric. And it’s like they’ve never been away. Except it is like they’ve been away. It’s like they’ve been away, figured out all that had gone wrong, all that they didn’t want to do, and corrected it. Gone away to a spa day, whipped each other with branches, relaxed in the sauna and thoroughly cleansed themselves with wheatgrass.
They appear revitalised. Playful, smart and as arch as Leslie Phillips’ quizzically raised eyebrow crossing a viaduct on the back of a particularly feisty filly.
Music for girls to dance to? See that and raise you a Y chromosome. Of course, as soon as they went near anything of the first album the bouncing was nearly uniform, but what was more positive for the future was how good the littering of tracks from Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action immediately sound.
The opening Right Action, with Alex Kapranos and Nick McCarthy alternating between Mc5 and Status Quo guitar poses, stomps along in glamorous fashion. The organ powered Evil Eye remains just the right side of schlocky melodrama, while Bullet blitzes past at a thousand miles an hour. They’re resolutely Franz sounding, while also being on first name terms with the idea of progression.
Alongside the discovery of the new, there’s a sense of the collective mind remembering how good the old is. Remembering how lithe and pointy Michael is. How anthemic Fire is. How the slinky funk of Ulysses is limber enough to slide under a door.
There’s giddiness to this performance, a giddiness that you also find on the new record, which is completely infectious. Kapranos high-kicks and pouts his way across stage; at one point McCarthy gracefully tumbles backwards into the crowd without ever missing a note, and they all look just like they are having tremendous fun.
Which is infectious too. And it sort of feels like if not the whole, than certainly a large part of, the point. Franz Ferdinand are back. And, based on tonight, they’ve really been missed.