The Glasgow band have re-bottled some of their early magic on this limber return to form

Franz Ferdinand’s 2015 collaboration with LA glam pop weird brains Sparks on the FFS project seems to have rubbed off on the Glasgow indiellectuals. Now beefed up to a five piece following the departure of founding member guitarist Nick McCarthy and the addition of two new members, Always Ascending is the quirkiest and zestiest thing Franz have done in years.

"Futuristic naturalistic" is the typically Alex Kapranos term Alex Kapranos is using to describe this latest collection and with Philippe Zdar (one half of French duo Cassius) producing, it certainly has a more electronic feel than the joyously spiky guitar of their first few albums.

Franz Ferdinand used to be all cool surfaces and angular poses - these days they pulsate where they used to jerk and glide where they used to skip. There’s also a new warmth to that trademark disco bass. The synth stabs on Lois Lane have the slightly deranged feel of Sparks and the frenetic scramble of Lazy Boy and the strutting Paper Cages also jump out of the speakers.

The wiry, slightly wired Kapranos remains as suavely detached and deadpan as ever as he delivers dry lines about over thirties singles nights and the self-obsession of social media on the witty The Academy Award. They’ve re-bottled some of their early magic on this limber return to form. 

Alan Corr @corralan