No-one’s had the foggiest about what Franz Ferdinand have been doing for the past couple of years – save for the fact they’ve been hammering away on album number four – but last weekend (May 21) they showcased four new songs at an intimate gig in Ireland. If you weren’t one of the lucky ones in Ireland, this is what we’ve pieced together about the new album…

‘Right Thoughts’
Remember when Franz swaggered onto the scene with a mantra of making music for girls to dance to? Well, prepare your gladrags for the disco, folks, because we’re back in classic territory here: a muscularly fierce, spiky guitar riff paves the way for Alex’s hedonistic tales of “Saturday night or Sunday morning”, before it goes all poptastic with some chanted refrains of “Dooh-dooh-dooh”s. A hypnotic groove that’s all about repetition, repetition, repetition.

‘Brief Encounters’

FF have previous form for dropping broodier, slow-burning tracks amongst their smattering of pounders – witness ‘Eleanor Put Your Boots On’ from their second LP. And, by the sounds of it, ‘Brief Encounters’ follows in the same vein: slower-paced and more menacing, with the odd snaking guitar line slithering in occasionally, that title seems a bit of a misnomer judging by Alex’s hushed – and nastily double-edged – delivery of “Pretend to sleep/ Come on, pretend, yeah let’s pretend”. Less full-throttle than ‘Right Thoughts’, but a humdinger in its own right.

‘Trees And Animals’

Hmmm. The generous, open-armed (and minded) side of us wants to put the lack of ‘Oomph’ here down to the patchy sound quality, but there’s a snarky devil on our shoulder whispering in our ear that ‘Trees And Animals’ is a notch below the other tracks: perfectly serviceable jangly pop, no doubt, but lacking a bit of pizzazz despite an admirable lot of huffing and puffing. Not a stinker, by any means – but we know they’re capable of greater heights.

‘Fresh Strawberries’

A strange beast, this one: it’s still jagged and angular, but less of a dancefloor-juggernaut than it is a slice of sunny-pop – especially the sweet and sticky melody of the chorus – before it builds up into a slick breakdown that boasts a potentially mighty (and odd) sing-along of “We are fresh strawberries”. Imagine a horde of blistered, burnt and red-faced festival-goers belting that out this summer…

All photos by Debbie Hickey, Studio Ten Photography