Under Review: Kaiser Chiefs – Off With Their Heads

Sometime in the future, there will probably be a compilation disc of the Kaiser Chiefs‘ singles. On their first two albums, it was clear that their creative pendulum swings hard; songs were either fist-pumping, beer-swilling battle cries or groan-inducing, pun-laden clunkers. Their best tunes tend to be a balancing act between the two, and their new album, Off With Their Heads, is easily their most cohesive set to date. Possibly driven to stricter quality control by co-producer Mark Ronson, the Kaisers bring their best material to their shortest album so far. Ronson’s fingerprints aren’t as overt as you might expect (see: Danger Mouse all over the most recent Black Keys album), as string and horn flourishes pepper only a few songs on the disc. The majority of the songs are based in the classic Kaiser Chiefs trick of packing verses with indiscernible lyrics before launching into a minor-key, sing-along chorus (“Half The Truth” and “Can’t Say What I Mean”). Joining lead singer/occasional BBC presenter Ricky Wilson at the mic are Lily Allen (“Always Happens Like That”) and the New Young Pony Club (“You Want History”), though the guests seem rather buried in the mix on the call-and-response “Never Miss A Beat.” The one thing that ties each of the three Kaiser Chiefs albums together is the band’s sense of humor. On Employment, they countered The Beach Boys with a song titled “Caroline, Yes.” With Yours Truly, Angry Mob, it was the Buzzcocks that were lampooned with “Everything Is Average Nowadays.” For the new album, the joke goes beyond the song’s title with the Robert Palmer-referencing Addicted To Drugs, whose refrain is as silly as it is catchy. At this rate, maybe the Kaiser Chiefs truly are destined to be more than whatever people say they are.

~ by E. on November 4, 2008.

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