Kaiser Chiefs have undergone radical changes of late, chief among them the departure of co-songwriter Nick Hodgson, coupled with vocalist Ricky Wilson’s stint on a reality TV show in an effort to raise the band’s profile. Once forerunners of mainstream indie-pop in the ’00s, a label they worked with to their own proclivity, the Kaisers were a shoe-in to pack arenas.
Now, with their fifth studio release – titled in reference to a Tony Blair speech on the power of education – their success isn’t guaranteed. And ‘Education…’ does little to revive the band’s fortunes, even if it does recall some past glories.
The collaboration with producer Ben H. Allen III (Animal Collective, Deerhunter) offers some verve and grittiness on ‘Misery Company’, detailing the social pariahs of society, featuring a distorted hooting noise, backed by a marching beat. ‘Bows & Arrows’ feels like an offshoot of the aforementioned track, an ode to brotherly accord – the production bolstered by new member Vijay Mistry’s off-the-wall drumming.
The psychology of war and anti-war memorandum are explored lyrically – not derisorily, but it’s hardly a novel approach either. There’s still a dependence on socio-political stadium anthems packed with leftist sentiments, ones the band hopes will simultaneously appeal to masses anew and the established contingent.
This record may indeed satisfy their supporters, for it does invoke some of that trademark Britpop sound of old. But Kaiser Chiefs fall further into the abyss of bands that have little new to offer in a current musical climate where progression is more closely measured than ever.
Words: Shahzaib Hussain
- - -
- - -