Kaiser Chiefs Off With Their Heads Review

Released 2008.  

BBC Review

While they're here let's just enjoy some great pop, eh?

Chris Jones 2008

Clever boys these Kaisers. Ditching a US tour last year they realised that, as Paddy McAloon once said, "absence makes the heart lose weight". In other words too long without any word could cost them the fanbase that's seen them become the UK's indie court jesters: funny, feisty and determined not to take all this star claptrap too seriously. Unlike Franz Ferdinand, who in making us wait until next year for their latest offering of uber cool, may have like, blown it, man - The Chiefs realise that it's better to remain visible, even if Off With Their heads doesn't really do more than remind you that they're a great pop rock act with a mission to make you sing their songs.

The album still has a fairly serious line-up, buffing it up and keeping it all part of the zeitgeist. Lily Allen On backing vocals, David Arnold arranging the strings, Sway adding some verbals to Half The Truth and, above all, Mark Ronson sharing desk duties.

Luckily, anyone fearing that Ronson would cover the Kaiser's sound with swathes of inappropriate faux-60s horn action will be relieved. Instead he's broadedned the palette a touch, at least adding an approximation of sophistication: 70s glam strings wash over Like It Too Much and buzzing synths on unashamed 'cheese' settings throughout. The guitar edges are a tad blunted, but it won't make a difference when these songs are delivered live. And for the requisite sensitive moment, final track, Remember You're A Girl, has drummer Nick Hodgson stepping up to the mic and actually providing the album's most affecting moment. It's hardly a new direction, but it guarantees that Leeds' finest stay ahead of the game for at least another year.

Charges of cultural tourism i.e: sneering at the lower classes - which were started with I Predict A Riot - are given further fuel by the first single, Never Miss A Beat, with its great line, "What do you want for tea? I want crisps". But to label the band as right wing hooligans is utterly misguided. Depth or political agendas were never their forte. Scratch the surface of Off With Their Heads and you find little more than great sounding couplets that make for wonderful sing along choruses.

If you want profundity you'll be listening to Bloc Party or Radiohead. Ricky and his gang just want you to know that they're still around and certainly aren't going away quite yet. So, while they're here let's just enjoy some great pop, eh?

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