Kaiser Chiefs burst onto the scene in 2005 with the huge and brilliant “Employment” album, and despite having been formed almost a decade earlier they still managed to have a fresh sound that combined catchy vocal hooks with indie rock guitar riffs and left you chanting along with them. With tracks like “Oh My God” the band made a very quick impact into the British music scene and their following grew quickly form their home city of Leeds to that of a national sensation. Although the British charts started to get flooded with similar sounding “guitar lead indie rock” the band stood out for their fun lyrics and energetic style.
Following on from “Employment” the band showed a significant drop in quality in the difficult second album, the 2007 release “Yours Truly, Angry Mob”, which although showed glimpses of the bands debut showed more signs of a band wanting to grow up too soon. The hit “Ruby” was the major light in the album whilst the rest was pretty unmemorable on the whole and the bands momentum was slowed.
In 2008 the band recorded and released “Off With Their Heads” which peaked at #2 in the UK (equalling the highest place of “Employment”, and standing 1 chart place behind “Yours Truly, Angry Mob”) and contained 10 tracks. The band, lead by vocalist Ricky Wilson also includes Andrew White on guitar, Simon Rix on Bass, Nick Raines on the Keyboard and Nick Hodgson on drums as well a host of studio musicians and a few special guests.
The album opens with “Spanish Metal” a throw back to the bands fun days that quickly allows you to remember what the band once were. Although the song depends on heavier musical sounds than their early work the vocal delivery will have you tapping your toes at points though not as much as the albums brilliant second track. “Never Miss a Beat”, which charted at #5 in the UK featured Lily Allen doing backing vocals and the hugely acclaimed producer Mark Ronson behind it’s production. The track is a complete throw back to when the band broke through, quick sharp lines with fun emanating through them that carry the track. It’s a great example of fun being a more important part to a good track than flat out talent.
The fun continues into the album with the anthem-like “Like It Too Much”, which although not quite as fun is brilliant to listen to and with some clever lyrics that just sound wonderful when sang out loud. It seems from the early part of this album as though the band quickly re-established themselves as a band that wanted to stand out from the crowd and instead of trying to sound intellectual (a’la Coldplay) or depressed (Keane, Snow Patrol) they wanted to sound happy. Thankfully the album continues deeper in with this fun attitude and “You Want History” manages to carry on the trend though does on it’s own sound a little too repetitive.
“Can’t Say what I Mean” manages to again sound fun, fresh and original and manages to avoid the problem of over repeating it’s hook whilst driving it’s self at a fast tempo with lots of great fun images. The album then slows down a little bit with “Good Days Bad Days” which although decent enough to listen to is most certainly filler material in all honesty (despite being released as the second single from the disk) though one that has one of the weirdest twists on the album at the start of the 3rd verse. “Tomato in the Rain” probably wins the title for the most bizarre title for a track (though is given a good run for it’s money by “Addicted to Drugs”), and is also one of the slower tracks on the album, allowing you to catch you’re breath. Just don’t take too much notice of the lyrics as they are just odd in places, but yet harmless enough.
“Half the Truth” is possibly the albums best hidden gem and one of the tracks that’s most worth downloading if you buy tracks on services like iTunes or Amazon’s MP3 store. The track is off the rails and fun, yet clever and shows signs of musical intelligence that the band often hide. The hook is brilliant, the lyrics are eclectic and the delivery is fantastic by both Wilson and guest rapper Sway DaSafo who places a small but wonderful part in the track. Lily Allen returns alongside producer Mark Ronson for the 9th track on the album “Always Happens Like That” although you can tell the band are running a little out of steam with the track it’s a more than acceptable track to start to close the album off with.
“Addicted To Drugs” again sees the involvement of Ronson, this time playing the agogo bells and although definite filler material you can’t help but feel the band can get away with it after so many great tracks on the disk that has easily out shined “Yours Truly, Angry Mob” and shown theirs still like in the Kaiser Chiefs. The album bows out with the relatively reserved “Remember you’re a Girl”, a slow and relatively soft ending to an album that sailed high and came down nicely.
After feeling really disappointed with the previous album this was a more than welcome surprise and cost just 99p from The Works, a true bargain.