These are the two words that come into mind whilst listening to the sixth studio album from The Kaiser Chiefs. In the early noughties, they were one of the leading bands in the indie scene, alongside Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand with their debut album, Employment, winning the Ivor Novello award for best album. However, they currently couldn’t be any further from their roots now.
Lead singer, Ricky Wilson, has been a judge on television singing competition The Voice for the past four years and the influence on the album is more than evident. Gone are the days of big sing-a-long guitar riffs and their usual simple but catchy lyrics. This album is full of the Kaiser’s attempt on Bastille-come-Coldplay indie-pop chart music with a lead singer who has had his ego blown to excessive heights.
Rewind two months, having heard the lead single for the album, Parachute, I was somewhat divided as to where the album would go. The song had the presence of a distinctive catchy chorus similar to the early days but despite the mediocre musical composition, there was still hope.
Unfortunately, I was proven wrong, there was no hope. Album opener We Stay Together is dreadful, Wilson begins wailing over a synth beat that could have been produced by my brother on garageband. This theme of poor, repetitive synth beats is consistent throughout the album, most definitely not reflective of Nick “Peanut” Baines previous catchy keyboard riffs. What is clear within the first few songs of this album is that the Kaiser’s powerful guitar riffs are quite simply no more.
Although there is a slight moment of hope in Happen In A Heartbeat, it slowly fizzles out. As the record progresses, the influence of producer Brian Higgins is clear. This is a man who works with pop bands such as S Club 7 and Girls Aloud, not indie rock icons. Maybe he was the man preaching: “we are writing and recording pop music” on a loudspeaker in Still Rewind, although I’m not sure this record could even be classified as “popular music”. Brian’s work is more than evident in High Society, which is quite possibly one of the most awful songs I’ve ever heard, where Ricky attempts a Mika style falsetto. It would be interesting to see this performed live as the quantity of post-production work on the vocals is more than questionable.
Album closer, Still Waiting, can be seen as somewhat ironic. Yes – we are still waiting for a good song. Yes – we are still waiting for a guitar riff. Yes – we are still waiting for you to give up. So where did it all go wrong?
I was lucky enough to attend The Kaiser’s final UK show with the original line up at Reading Festival in 2012, it was a classic powerful performance. From covering The Who’s Pinball Wizard to nearly insighting a riot with I Predict A Riot - this was rock ‘n’ roll. However, it was to be drummer and main songwriter Nick Hodgson’s last UK show being replaced by Vijay Mistry. The band steadily begun their decline, they now truly miss him in both their live performances and in the writing of their records. He was priceless to the band, and the lack of his influence is more than evident in this truly disappointing record.
Kaiser Chiefs we are still waiting for you to replicate those powerful indie rock records of the noughties. I’m afraid, your days are numbered.