Franz Ferdinand is still one of the most masterful debuts dropped this side of Y2K. Their brash hyper-sexual slivers of art-rock sloshed a jigger of oomph all over ailing British indie, and the Scottish foursome simply blew up. In demand over the globe, they garnered awards, including the prestigious Mercury Prize, and became staples - 'Take Me Out' is iconic - of every aural outlet. It was an LP of bold, ambiguous, sweaty, leather-clad pop, with hearty disco/funk guitar lacing paeans of misspent youth.

Following on, their subsequent records struggled to regain that vital essence that made them so addictive. There were handfuls of big numbers, but nothing that could top the immediacy and originality of their eponymous debut. After 2009's Tonight..., they simply vanished. They dabbled with much synthery on the effort, and sauntered down avant-garde avenue for a brief sojourn, but it lacked the necessary energy and wry-smirk quips. They faded from the spotlight, and, as surreptitiously as contemporaries Bloc Party returned, they flopped back into our peripherals four years later, all scrubbed up and ready to rock'n'roll, of course bearing news of an impending fourth effort.

Dropping twin singles 'Love Illumination' and 'Right Action' together gave us a giddy arrhythmia - both were reminiscent of that jagged early bravado that launched a thousand blazer-laden spin-offs. It's that dark punk-pop (not to be confused with pop-punk), with serrated riffs, new wave synth licks and a snap of snare. The rhythms are taut, the bass shoulder-bouncingly jaunty and epic choruses capable of evoking memories of 'Matinee' and 'Michael'. There's 80s axe solo pomp and lothario swagger; Franz Ferdinand prove that they're still capable of winning hearts, stealing glances and being ruggedly sexy. Neither of these lead singles broke any moulds - and thank Christ for that. We didn't want any experimental doom-folk or shoegaze-sodden electronica; we wanted ludicrous, charming pop-rock delivered with impeccable taste and 80s/70s grooves.

It's with high expectations that Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action arrives. 'Evil Eye', opening like Franz's mutant crossbreed of 'The Fallen' and 'Thriller', is a campy pantomime of winking gloom. It's West Side Story horror - not particularly spooky, not particularly horrifying, but most definitely finger-snappingly addictive. It's much punkier than we've heard in a while, with Alex Kapranos leading bouts of snarky yelps. 'Bullet' wears more than a speck of The Strokes on its sleeve; it's bound to be a huge single. Angular riffs and juddering chords blends amorously with saccharine hooks and a rakish motorik; that amphetamine energy is back, and it's fantastic.'Fresh Strawberries' is jarring. It's very 60s, and the imagery is heavy-handed throughout - on first listen it's a weak link, but as the LP wears on it becomes much more essential. It's a grower. 'The Universe Expanded' wafts an Arcade Fire scent in our direction. Fuzzed-out six-stringers reverberate amongst twinkling chimes, breathy beats and prominent bass - it's a muted effort, disjointed and dislocated; the textures are thicker than Franz normally plump for. Guitars, instead of being sonic spikes, are lethargic and distant. It's an intriguing slab of balladry, and far more dangerous than we've heard from them in yonks.

The record highlight arrives as the band bid us adieu. 'Goodbye Lovers and Friends' is staggering. It's a myriad of frantic elements: Indian bhangra sitars, R&B percussion, 19th century Russian strings and classic first-album Franz. It should be a godawful mess, but it's far from it. It's fluid, eccentric and chock full of psych-pop layers. Kapranos' words exude his signature sarcasm: "Don't play pop music, no/ you know I hate pop music/ just sing the music godless create... Goodbye lovers and friends/ it's so sad to leave you." It's critical to the album.

Bands often struggle to reclaim the glory of debuts. Sometimes, it's just not possible, and you've got to move on. Franz dabbled in new territory for a while, and while it wasn't bad, it didn't meet expectations. Now, refreshed and invigorated, they return to their gruff, pristine art-rock sexiness. It's not the exact same style as they sauntered into our lives with, they've grown and matured, but it's the natural progression we'd hoped for eight years ago. It might be late, but it's damn good. They've proven their relevance once more, and proven that they are unmatched masters of dance-rock.