Kaiser Chiefs - Yours Truly, Angry Mob
Bill Cummings 04/03/2007
So two years on from their successful album “Employment”, Leeds' the Kaiser Chiefs return, backed by reams of ridiculous hype, the predictable fan excitement, and the number one slot for their new single "Ruby", what's the verdict on The Kaisers difficult second album "Yours Truly, Angry Mob"?
Well new single "Ruby" is typical, a sound that's processed to within an inch of its life, drums and keys that splodge synthetically and tinny guitars that barely scratch their way through the cling film, the poor rhyming couplets of a lightweight verse (“There is Nothing I need, Except The Function to Breath, But I'm not really fussed, Doesn't matter to me") that literally never gets going, a REPETITIVE chorus/melody that simply repeats the title (a typical sign of a band struggling to break their writer's block), a tune that's straining for viability as their come back "hit" as Ricky's vocals struggle above the din, to deliver anything other than a wink and a cheeky grin as he tells us all about Ruby the girl he can't get out of his head: Jarvis Cocker he aint.
Title track "The Angry Mob" sounds like the remnants of Shed Seven's back catalogue being screwed up the arse by desperation and feigned anger, Ricky's vocal straining towards something melodic, something of interest! The backing is typically limp mush of "glossy guitar rock," with a boring repetitive outro: its lyric strains to embody a withering swipe at angry hate mob's fuelled by the Daily Mail, but bereft of cutting lyrics or a real point its the satirical equivalent of a one man band poking Fleet Street in the leg, rather than a juicy punch in its face (watch Brass Eye for that!). From the band that brought you the first in a wave of dumb anthems about night clubs ("I Predict a Riot") comes "Highroyds" a buzzing stab at the exhilarating sound of Supergrass' Richard the third about originally enough, a night on the tiles in Boston Spa.
Then there's the section of songs about how the world's gone to pot these days (how original) "I Can Do it Without you" tells us a tale of how "buildings look the same" but it ends up being a song about moving on from an old girlfriend backed by a tune that meanders to a dead end: it says more about The Kaisers' inability to construct a song that doesn't nauseatingly jump up and down like a hyperactive school kid for your attention, than about the alienation of millennial Britain. Album centrepiece "Everything is Average Nowadays" is a bouncy piece of guitar pop that sounds not entirely unlike old single "Everyday I Love You Less and Less” mugging a point to the extreme ("Everyone is following the craze, of everthing is average nowadays") repeating a chorus ad infinitum, as if to make up for the fact that the lyrics don't have any specific examples of naughties mundanity: so Ricky mate, I've got one: your band, The Kaiser Chiefs. The irony is that they are part of that "average" mainstream they wish to pinpoint, from indie wannabes to Live 8 act: they are now that radio band, but unlike Franz Ferdinand, early Oasis or even the Arctic Monkeys who've broke through that divide in the past: they offer nothing of interest, beyond some silly melodies, dated musical pastiche nonsense and on the evidence of this: delusions towards their own importance.
Elsewhere is song after song (My Kind of Guy, Learnt My lesson well) that passes you by, resembling a stompy track from an NME compilation at the arse end of the 1990s, being mullered by Squeeze, nothing spectacular or sticking out, all the "indie pop" boxes checked, all silly rhyming couplets delivered with a raised eyebrow. To give the Kaisers their due "Boxing Champ" sounds oddly out of place amongst this dross, in that it's actually not bad, its minute odd solitary vocal, and jaunty piano line oh so briefly refreshes the palette. While "Love's not A Competition" is at least another change of pace, a shuffling guitar that Ricky's flat Simon Le Bon-esque vocal style doesn't suit - this kind of plaintative balladry is symptomatic of an album that's singularly lacking in emotional impact, save for a repeated assertion to a loved one that "I won't be the one to dissapoint you” but despite theses assurances as a listener one can't help but feel short-changed. The album's finale “Retirement” is no less hollow, a jaunty vaguely Beatles-esque ditty about wanting to retire early: it's only successful in managing to cram in about fifty clichés into one song (which must be some kind of record!), each one wheeled out and spoon fed to the listener in the chorus, like the musical equivalent of meals on wheels.
"Yours Truly, Angry Mob" desperately wants to be a northern version of Blur's "Modern Life is Rubbish" for 2007, with a series of songs essentially about "How British life was better in the old days, ahhh you could leave your back door open, the summers went on for ever, weren't those nights out really fun!!”, etc etc. But it's never successful because it never takes the risks musically or hits any of the nails lyrically that Blur's 1994 opus did, so lapses back into a comfort zone essentially attempting to repeat the commercial success of "Employment" with a series of ham-fisted attempts at repeating a successful formula, namely the kind of big dumb sloganeering rock songs about girls and going out that saw them win many fans in 2005. No matter how well this album charts it shall forever be an empty, bland, damp squid of a record, that attempts to dress in indie clothes but never convincingly inhabits them: it pretends it has important things to say, whilst delivering the tunes, but ends up sounding like much of the successful millennial indie that dominates the charts right now (the Kooks, Razorlight et al) bland, lazy, trite, and contrived. Maybe they at least had one point eh? Everything in the mainstream is average nowadays.