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Franz Ferdinand

Approximately a minute into album opener/single "Ulysses," the herky-jerky guitars and dance-floor drum syncopation that make up Franz Ferdinand's signature style finally appear, but only after uncharacteristic low-end vamping and swirling synthesizers. This mild experimentation, it turns out, is indicative of Tonight: Franz Ferdinand, the band's enjoyable third album.

Nearly four years since the band's sophomore album, You Could Have It So Much Better, we still catch glimpses of the old, familiar Franz Ferdinand: start-stop time signatures, songs covered with a disco miasma and lyrics that grimace and smirk in turn. More often, however, the group's latest boasts experiments like "Lucid Dreams," an eight-minute shape-shifter with an elongated outro of electronic dabbling and a thumping groove. Then there is the blipping lullaby "Dream Again," and the stripped, acoustic-piano balladry of "Katherine Kiss Me" (both of which are natural progressions of the gentler moments first explored on their sophomore album).

The group recently has been so quiescent with its recorded output that it bordered on abandonment. Nevertheless, with this release, Franz Ferdinand takes an interesting path to bridge the chasm between the fans they quickly garnered and their relevancy in a constantly amnesiac music scene. Namely, they do not kowtow. For instance, "What She Came For" jumps abruptly from a by-the-numbers disco bopper to its squealing, skuzzy garage rock conclusion. It doesn't always work, like on the grating "No You Girls," but it makes for an entertaining and appealing effort.

More by Michael Petitti

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