It's been a long day off for Franz Ferdinand, the band Kanye West memorably tagged as "white crunk music." These Scottish boys banged out three of the past decade's most dazzling rock albums in one five-year rush, so no wonder they needed a minute to catch their breath. Right Action is their first in four years. But they return sounding hungry for blood, with all their twin-guitar glam-punk strut. How ever they spent their downtime, it wasn't mellowing out.
On Right Action, they fuse all the kickiest elements of their music, from the mirror-ball dance sleaze of 2009's Tonight to the Zeppelin-fueled rock crunch of 2005's You Could Have It So Much Better. And they've still got boning on the brain. When Alex Kapranos purrs a line like "Sometimes I wish you were here/Weather permitting," he sounds poised halfway between a hello-sailor come-on and a goodbye-stranger kiss-off.
As always, Franz's songwriting explores sex and romance with subtly delicate craft – even in "Bullet," a deliriously fast-paced ode to erotic obsessions. "Treason! Animals." barrels down the highway like vintage Deep Purple jamming with LCD Soundsystem, as Kapranos chants, "I'm in love with a narcissist." And the slutty-boy manifesto "Love Illumination" splices disco and prog flourishes into something seductively bizarre – just the kind of brilliant pop gem that only Franz Ferdinand could write. Welcome back, lads.