You could be forgiven for thinking that the Kaiser Chiefs had split up or, at the very least, were on a hiatus. With chief songwriter and drummer Nick Hodgson quitting the group in early 2012, and lead singer Ricky Wilson taking up a judging role on The Voice UK, the three year gap since their last release looked as if it could go on indefinitely.
That album, The Future is Medieval, was the band’s least commercially successful so far, reviews were mixed, and understandably so. While a hardcopy was available in shops, fans were encouraged to buy the album via the band’s website, where they were tasked with choosing 10 tracks from a possible 20.
While this was a unique way of involving fans in the albums tracklisting/song selection, the major fault in the plan was the lack of quality songs available. Despite having 20 tracks to choose from, every possible combination screamed mediocre.
Flash-forward three years and the band, now including new drummer Vijay Mistry, have released their 5th studio album, Education, Education, Education & War, which has just gone to No.1 in the album charts.
Back in time to tour the summer festivals and with fans clearly still willing to buy their latest work, this album has come at a time of the year, and a time in the band’s career, that could propel them back to the top of the scene.
Opening with The Factory Gates and Coming Home, the Leeds outfit continue to value Ooooohhhhhs and Aaaaoooohhhoooos as more important musical devices than any lyrics. Keeping in line with the hooligan rock theme they’ve built up over the past ten years, expect to hear these lyric-less choruses on every sports show for the foreseeable future.
Surprises come in the form of Meanwhile Up in Heaven and final track Roses, as both are reminiscent of the song Hodgson would have penned, particularly Love’s Not a Competition. Slower, lacking the beating drummers, and the cheesy rises to the sing-along choruses, they are the two standout tracks on an album that otherwise conforms to what the average festival going crowd will want to hear midday before the headliners arrive.
A poor-man’s, lighter Kasabian, living in the remnants Britpop, Kaiser Chiefs haven’t produced anything original here, but their music-for-the-masses approach is certainly back on track, and could possibly have created their best album since their debut, Employment, now 9 years-old.