Since their last album was an almost obligatory ‘Greatest Hits’ album with a vamped up new name, ‘Souvenir: The Singles’, it’s been almost three years since we’ve heard an album’s worth of new material from Kaiser Chiefs. Nonetheless it’s been a busy few years. They’ve toured the UK; supported Green Day; lost a band member; gained a band member and even acquired a spot in one of those spinning chairs the BBC seem quite fond of.
In between all that, they’ve also managed to squeeze in writing their new album. The title, harking back to Blair’s 2001 mantra, ‘Education, Education, Education and War’ sets the tone for the majority of the album. It’s as military inspired as an album can be and lays particular criticism on the Iraq invasion and Labour’s policies.
The first track, ‘Factory Gates’, a particular favourite of mine, is ballsy and hard hitting. It reintroduces us to Kaiser Chiefs with no polite ‘Hello’s’ or ‘How have you been?’s’ but barges straight on in and settles itself down as a politically heavy song with a big chorus and angsty tone. Lead single ‘Coming Home’ is as close to a ballad as Kaiser Chiefs will ever get and has everything a lead single ought to: a strong, catchy chorus with heavy backing vocals to accompany Wilson’s distinctive tone; a slightly more commercial feel to appeal to a wider audience and an excellent guitar solo, ideal for a bit of air guitar action – do people still do that?
A real credit to Kaiser Chiefs is their ability to be all encompassing. They give each member a real platform to shine. Wilson’s sound is as distinguished as ever while bassist Rix sets an undertone for every song. ‘Misery Company’ plays to the experience and ability of guitarist, Andrew White and keyboardist, Nick Baines while ‘One More Last Song’ also sees a strong debut from new drummer, Vijay Mistry. A little less political and little catchier it fully displays Kaiser Chiefs abilities to please a crowd with lyrics alone. To add to every other element, the team in the sound effects department have been working overtime with Wilson’s manic laughter over the top of ‘Misery Company’ and some eerie wind and squawking seagulls at the top of ‘Factory Gates’.
Of final note is ‘My Life’ of which there is an almost 80’s rock element, and ‘Cannons’ which allows for Bill Nighy to make his music debut with a poetic rant regarding war and conflict. Ultimately, an album which unites Ricky Wilson, Bill Nighy, Tony Blair and seagull related sound effects is always going to make an impact and that it has. Perhaps aided by Wilson’s new found fame on ‘The Voice’, it reached Number 1 in the UK Album Charts this week and has the potential to stay there a little longer. However, it is in my opinion more than deserving of this accolade and on a serious note, if it doesn’t master it certainly does well the tricky job of balancing real life with something you can actually listen to and enjoy.