Franz Ferdinand

Finally, they’re back with a new album, and live, it already sounds like a classic. London (December 1)

Our latest little glimpse of the lesser-spotted Franz Ferdinand is in a suitable place – a sweaty, packed nightclub. After all, frontman Alex Kapranos did recently state that just-completed new album ‘Tonight: Franz Ferdinand’ was “music of the night: to fling yourself around your room to as you psych yourself for a night of hedonism, for the dancefloor…” and so on. So where better to make their London return than trendy honeypot Club Durrr (the new Trash)?

You’d have thought many of tonight’s attendees’ attention spans would have been small enough that they stopped caring just a few months into the three and-a-bit years the band have taken off in-between albums. But no, on a freezing cold night the queue snakes round the block. It would seem that their prolonged absence has made hearts grow fonder for Franz – their forthcoming Shockwaves NME Awards Show sold out almost immediately too.

However risky the strategy of taking a long time off, it ultimately doesn’t matter if you’ve got the songs. And, as demonstrated by their shock Glastonbury appearance earlier this year (already confirmed to be repeated on a bigger stage at the 2009 event), there are a bunch of surefire, infuriatingly catchy songs that remind everyone here why we all fell in love with them in the first place. New single ‘Ulysses’ is typical of the new batch – direct and forceful with a singalong chorus and an edge of naughtiness, with singer Alex Kapranos insisting “C’mon, c’mon, let’s get high” over angular guitars and squiggly synths. “People know that song now and seem to really like it; there was a lot of dancing around tonight. I want people to be thrilled by our new stuff and they seem to be,” frontman Alex Kapranos tells NME after the show.

Elsewhere, ‘What She Came For’ and ‘Turn It On’ are also maddeningly addictive and hold their own in the company of Franz’s earlier big hitters such as the still-majestic ‘Matinée’ and, of course, the enduringly awesome ‘Take Me Out’. After the overlong ‘You Could Have It So Much Better’ blotted the band’s copybook slightly back in 2005, it’s almost as if Franz have gone back to their roots to forge a future – after all, their debut album had its birth as much in club culture as it did in straight-ahead indie-rock.

“Tonight was rough, crazy and fucked up. I loved it,” says Kapranos. Our sentiments exactly. Welcome back, boys.

Alan Woodhouse