Four years ago Glasgow art rockers Franz Ferdinand released their third album, which was called Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, and it did not fare very well in most countries. Not with critics and not with fans. It was produced by the renowned Brian Higgins of Xenomania, who’s worked with everyone from Pet Shop Boys to Kylie Minogue to Texas to Saint Etienne. The album was supposed to have more of a pop sound, but what it wound up having was a dull, largely uninspired electro sound. In some instances — like the standout “No You Girls” — it also had killer pop hooks. But most of the songs were tepid and disappointing to those of us who’d loved the group’s immensely catchy first two albums. Especially since we had been promised that Tonight would be even more irresistible than their previous records, and the sucker had taken four whole years to make, so we were in serious Franz Ferdinand withdrawal by the time it came out. This means that it’s been eight years since we’ve had a fantastic Franz Ferdinand record. Fortunately, this time they’ve released a gem of an album that sparkles and shines as brilliantly as their first two records. To that end, all ten of the magnificent tracks on Right Thoughts sound as though they could have been on either of those albums. From the slightly raw guitar tone, to the slick bass licks, to the simple but potent drums, to the way Alex Kapranos sings his witty lyrics like he’s got a big ol’ sarcastic grin on his face, everything about this album resembles their first two records. (Save for the fact that it has a bit more keyboards.) And yet it still sounds fresh and invigorating, never coming across as an uninspired regurgitation. They follow the winning formula they’d previously established but it never feels formulaic. I can’t think of the last time a band managed to recapture their early sound so exquisitely. Many have tried, but the vast majority of them have failed. I love Black Sabbath’s 13, and it does a pretty good job of invoking their first few records, but it doesn’t quite do it. Ditto for Van Halen’s A Different Kind Of Truth. Another great record, but it doesn’t feel magical like their previous albums with David Lee Roth. So, if these heavyweights couldn’t recapture their old mojo entirely, who would have thought that Franz Ferdinand could do so? I sure didn’t. Not after their last album. But they proved me wrong. And I also have to say that it’s been a long time since I heard a rock album that was this jam-packed with such clever hooks, ripe melodies and crafty lyrics. Bravo, Franz, bravo.