This is a review of "Employment" recorded by Kaiser Chiefs. The review was written by Gavin Miller in 2005.
It's the big one, folks. It's finally here and it's been given to me. On a first listen, it's like being reminded of watching those live shows from a year or so ago. You stop and think "yeah, I remember this song" or "ahhh! Look what they've done to that song!"
'Everyday I Love You Less and Less' is a superb start to proceedings, sounding more Devo than Devo, it buzzes with synths and keyboards, fizzes with some punchy guitar work and has some perfect little harmonies going on too. The fun time stomp of 'I Predict A Riot' is bound to be played at every student disco up and down the country from now until whenever. You've heard enough of this single I'm sure, so there's no point in me trying to change your mind.
'Modern Way' was one of my favourite songs from any band in Leeds, let alone one of the finest in the Kaiser's cannon. It's a deliciously simple little ditty, with some more of those golden harmonies, a beautifully melancholic chorus and even some cowbell. What more do you need? It's a gorgeous little song, perfectly crafted and suitably placed after the high energy of the first two tracks.
Talking to people in Leeds about the Chiefs, they seem to be a little split down the middle. Maybe it comes with the success of finally breaking the big (ish) time, that you alienate some of your audience, because they fail to be 'your special little band' anymore.
'Na Na Na Na Naa' is the fitting, but really quite silly title for the next track on offering, and again, it's one of those memorable jaunts from their live show. The bouncy pianos and the frenzied drums mix with the insanely catchy "na na na na naa" chorus refrain to reveal another little gem.
More downbeat song craft with the subtle 'You Can Have It All' make sure that this album is not one of those throw away indie Britpop things, full of pub disco tracks with little meaning. Some people drew comparisons with mid 90's era Blur, and it's understandable, seeing as how the same producer is at the helm for most of this record, a Mr. Steven Street, a veritable veteran of the British rock music scene.
Everyone who managed to buy the original CD pressing of 'Oh My God' will be glad to know that it's fetching ridiculous money on eBay. The album version of the song feels a lot slicker, smoother and a lot better than that original recording. Well, I guess that's what you get with a bigger budget and a big name producer on board. 'Born To Be A Dancer' and 'Saturday Night' are two more old favourites that get the high gloss finish. The former's almost football chant chorus of "oh oh oh oh oh ohhh" and the latter's up beat disco-isms mix up the tone and feel of the record even more, for good or ill.
It's in their lyrics though that the band distance themselves from the 'hipper than thou' culture of most of the NME touted bands. "We're like birds of a feather / and you can be the fat one" is not a line that you could imagine that drug addled berk Doherty snarling. Dare I say it, it's fun. The whole point of this record is to be fun; A fun, pop record. That's it.
The plodding, overlong 'What Did I Ever Give You?' feels a bit muddled, and should've probably been left off, or edited down a bit more, but the jaunty, lively 'Time Honoured Tradition' brings the energy back to the album, featuring the knees up bar room piano, the crashing guitars and that damn cowbell again. 'Caroline, Yes' is the best song title ever. Perhaps. Anyway, anyone who remembers it as a b-side on 'Oh My God' won't be disappointed to know that it's changed little. Everything's still there, and still sounding great. Final track 'Team Mate' is another one of those subtle, under stated little songs. It's a fitting end to a very good album.
Maybe in parts it's a bit overlong, maybe in parts it doesn't quite mix well, but the other 95% of the time, they get it spot on. Maybe I'm saying that just because of who they are and where they're from, but I don't care, it seems to strike a chord in anyone who enjoys perfectly crafted pop music. And I'm one of those people. Not quite perfect, but damn near close.