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Kaiser Chiefs - Off With Their Heads

Kaiser Chiefs, Off With Their Heads

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

THE third album from the Kaiser Chiefs arrives a mere 18 months since their sophomore effort Yours Truly, Angry Mob and promising a fuller sound complete with outside resources. It just about achieves that… but only just.

Kicking off with the formulaic Spanish Metal, which lazily blends their trademark crunching guitar riffs with echoed vocals and chant-along choruses, it then careers into the similarly risk-free lead single Never Miss A Beat, which is admittedly fun, but not really a departure. But then something starts to happen…

David Arnold crops up on Like It Too Much, augmenting the guitars with some lush orchestral arrangements, and creating a much more layered effect to the Kaiser Chiefs sound. A great chorus helps, complete with lyrics such as “And you are, descended from animals”.

There’s a New York disco sound amid the keyboards of You Want History that’s similarly disarming, though not necessarily as successful as its predecessor, while a throbbing bassline gives added pathos to Can’t Say What I Mean. But, again, it’s more bog-standard than inspired.

Then, however, the album delivers another of its pleasant surprises. Good Days Bad Days marks a return of the keyboard focus, the disco vibe and a summery vibe that should bring some much needed warmth to the cooler autumnal months. It’s chirpy, bright and easily the sound of Kaiser Chiefs at their most appealing. Expect it to follow as a future single.

Tomato In The Rain, meanwhile, finds a Hammond organ taking centre stage and dropping some nice backing instrumentation to another highlight, albeit one that slows the pace as well.

Half The Truth is another interesting entry on the album – an otherwise average Kaiser Chiefs crowd-pleaser that suddenly gets a belated extra kick by the presence of rapper Sway. It’s an attention-grabbing end to the song that provides further evidence of Kaiser Chiefs’ willingess to experiment.

Always Happens Like That is a cheerful indie rocker that’s leant endearing support by Lily Allen’s backing vocals, while the anthemic foot-stomper Addicted To Drugs is just a really fun listen, complete with “who hoh” and “whey hey“s galore. Lyrically, it’s also indicative of the Kaisers’ cheeky approach to songwriting, opening with the line “getting married in the morning”, before being forced to admit over the chorus that “you might as well face it you’re addicted to love”. You’ll be singing along, and probably swaying too!

Final track, Remember You’re A Girl then rounds things off in similarly pleasing style – another welcome change of pace that swaps the upbeat, in-your-face tendencies of many of its predecessors with a blissful, trance-like mid-‘70s approach that clearly owes a debt to John Lennon.

If anything, Off With Their Heads is an album that keeps getting better the longer it lasts – when the strength of their diversity can properly be appreciated, and the production help of Mark Ronson begins to yield big dividends. So, while hopelessly formulaic at points, it’s also fun and ambitious at others. And if you’re a fan, you can’t ask for more than that!

Download picks: Like It Too Much, Good Days Bad Days, Tomato In The Rain, Addicted To Drugs, Remember You’re A Girl

Track listing:

  1. Spanish Metal
  2. Never Miss A Beat
  3. Like It Too Much
  4. You Want History
  5. Can’t Say What I Mean
  6. Good Days Bad Days
  7. Tomato In The Rain
  8. Half The Truth
  9. Always Happens Like That
  10. Addicted To Drugs
  11. Remember You’re A Girl