April 12, 2007

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Kaiser Chiefs, Yours Truly, Angry Mob
UMVD, 2007
What does it say that this album reminds me more of parody band The Rutles than anything else?

To be fair, it sounds most like the second half of Archaeology, the Rutles’ coming-out-of-fake-retirement response to the Beatles’ Anthology, when they got more of their own sound than just aping the Fab Four for comic effect. Still, the sound is pretty much textbook Britpop, with the occasional commentary on the disaffected working class and mildly clever lines. The tunes are certainly more polished than those on Employment, the Chiefs’ 2005 debut, but that comes at the expense of the palpable joy present on the first album. You just can’t hear them having fun.

Take the first track and apparent single, “Ruby.” I’m imagining these scruffy guys banging away at their guitars performing this unrequited love song in a dank pub, probably slightly drunk, without all the smooth harmonization and perfect wall of sound behind the vocals. And you know what? I like the version in my head so much better. Some bands demand crisp production values, but the Kaiser Chiefs really sound like they just wanna rock.

More evidence: final track Retirement. “There are many things that I would be proud of / If I’d only invented them, such as the wheel / The washing machine and the tumble dryer / On these inventions, surely I could retire,” sings Ricky Wilson, quite tongue in cheek. The song is cute for a while, but eventually the backing instruments just become too dramatic and epic for what the song is really saying: you know, I’d really just like to be lazy.

Then there’s track nine, “Everything Is Average Nowadays.” Yup.

Bottom line: pleasant enough to listen to if you like the genre, but nothing special. C —John “jaQ” Andrews