Their high-energy 2005 debut album, Employment, launched the Kaiser Chiefs into international stardom. This week, the UK rock band tries to match that success with their highly-anticipated follow-up, Yours Truly, Angry Mob.
The Chiefs almost succeed. Employment‘s best songs are arguably the first two: “Everyday I Love You Less and Less” and “I Predict A Riot.” Yours Truly also starts off with a bang, but unlike Employment, it blows its load early, as the opening tracks – the repetitious but infectiously catchy “Ruby” and the “fuck modern society” invective “The Angry Mob” – build a momentum the rest of the album can’t sustain.
The Kaiser Chiefs combine Blur’s polished pop sensibility with the songwriting and vocal styling of the Kinks’ Ray Davies and the echoing guitar of the Smiths. The peaks just don’t reach as high on the Chiefs’ sophomore effort, and therefore the album’s few missteps become even more pronounced, as is the case with the plodding “Try Your Best” or the piano ballad “Boxing Champ.”
Unfortunately, most of the songs here are mired in self-conscious cynicism. “The Angry Mob” begins as a bar brawl but then becomes a simplistic anti-establishment rant. The rock star in “Thank You Very Much” is bored with groupies. “Highroyds” reveals that drunken youth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. And “Everything Is Average Nowadays” is, well, self-explanatory.
But singer Ricky Wilson’s sometimes subversive (and more often trite) lyrics are saved by poppy, guitar driven tunes and insanely catchy hooks. Don’t look to the Chiefs for insightful social commentary – just have fun basking in their Britpop exuberance.
This review was published in the March 29, 2007 issue of the Washington Square News.