The return of Franz Ferdinand

MICHAEL RIETMULDER | Updated 10/8/2013

Scottish dance-rockers talk mid-’00s heyday, Nye’s Polonaise Room and a return-to-form LP.


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It’s been nearly 10 years since Franz Ferdinand wormed its way into the indie (and mainstream) consciousness. The Tony Blair-era Scots broke in 2004 thanks to bubbly dance-rock hit “Take Me Out,” the irresistible second single off their Mercury Prize-winning debut.

As it should be for young musicians getting their first taste of stardom, life was good.

“It felt euphoric,” recalled guitarist Nick McCarthy. “It was what you always secretly dream of as a band. You stand on a big stage and everyone loves you, you know? [Laughs.] It was great. You just strut around like a big cock!”

It would be a while before the Glasgow-based quartet would stop strutting. The following year they hit the Grammys, playing alongside pop stars Gwen Stefani and the Black Eyed Peas. Six months later they had another album to promote in “You Could Have It So Much Better” and kicked off two more years of touring.

“When we first started up [we thought], ‘We have to release a record a year, absolutely, that’s part of it,’ ” McCarthy said.

But between the road’s free drinks and stirring crowds with their jubilatory disco stompers, there was little time to write the next record. After releasing two albums in two years, it would take another eight to match that tally, culminating with August’s “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Actions.” Touting the worth-the-wait fourth release, Franz Ferdinand has embarked on its first full-fledged American tour in four years (not counting some festival and sporadic gigs).

If the band’s stop Wednesday at the Skyway Theatre is anything like the last Twin Cities trip, the mid-aught indie studs just might find themselves in one of Minneapolis’ most iconic watering holes.

“We’re glad to be coming back to the home of Nye’s, uh, polka restaurant?” McCarthy tiptoed.

You mean Nye’s Polonaise Room?

“Yeah, we were there the last time around,” he chimed. “It’s an amazing place. It felt like it has a bit of German flair to it. I love that place, we’ll try to go there again.”

Close enough.

Franz Ferdinand’s new record comes on the heels of (or perhaps more like a leg behind) 2009’s “Tonight: Franz Ferdinand,” which marked a bit of a shift for the spiky indie rockers and failed to yield a charting single. Despite embracing their dance-floor compulsions more heavily on album No. 3, McCarthy describes “Tonight” as a dark record. By comparison, it lacked the hearty rhythms and hybrid guitar funk that made the band’s multiplatinum debut such a hit.

Conversely, “Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action” opens with the shot-in-the-arm groove of partial title track “Right Thoughts.” Guitars squiggle and bounce along with the rhythm, as frontman Alex Kapranos teases, “Sometimes wish you were here, weather-permitting,” reminding us of his waggish pen.

“Sonically, it’s a return to why we started the band in the first place, really,” McCarthy said. “Have fun and make girls dance.”

A comfortably noble mission statement, sure. But the album’s not without its twists. McCarthy said largely producing the record themselves (with some assistance from Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard and Alexis Taylor, Björn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John, and Todd Terje) made for a more “immediate” environment, in which ideas didn’t have to pass an outsider’s taste test, freeing them to try things they might not have otherwise. One lovable misadventure is “Evil Eye.” The nearly demo-folder-relegated track opens in typically springy, funk-rock fashion before quickly spiraling into a hypnotic “Chronic”-channeling chorus.

“That’s always the best thing if you think, ‘We can’t really do that,’ ” McCarthy said. “If it makes you laugh, like ‘Oh,no, really?’ that’s the song you always have to take.”