They’re not blazing a trail. They’re not bringing rock and roll to a new level. They’re not even saving it. They just want some tea, and watch some football. And play some music. And they do it well.
Kaiser Chiefs first caught my fancy a few years ago with their fantastic debut “Employment”, which almost played like a greatest hits album. From beginning to end, the album just moved. And grooved. It was only a few years later that they’d be trying to follow that act, and that can be a recipe for disaster. The sophomore jinx is a cliche but it definitely has its victims. Unforunately with “Yours Truly, Angry Mob”, it claimed another. Frenetic, messy, and almost too much energy, as if they were just trying too hard. I’ll admit the album has grown on me, but it was not what I wanted to hear after “Employment”.
It seems like they listened to the criticism of “Angry Mob” and keyed it down a little for their third, and most relaxed effort, “Off With Their Heads”. It doesn’t begin with a hit single, but the first track “Spanish Metal” does offer a hint to what things are to come: this is not a singles album, like “Employment”. But it’s also not a coked up too-much-off-guitar-riff-anthems mix either. It’s an enjoyable album. Weird to say, but it really is quite laid back, and because of that, it doesn’t have too much on it that will get you jumping out of your seat.
But it also won’t have you rolling your eyes, either. It’s got some songs that stand out, like “Never Miss a Beat” (the album’s first single), and “Like it Too Much”. Somewhere around the 6-8 tracks it seems to settle into background music, but it does pick up around “Always Happens Like That” and it ends very nicely with “Remember You’re a Girl”. Some of it has that throwback 60’s or 70’s feel to it, somewhat like “Employment”.
Overall, it’s not going to blow you away. But at least the Chiefs are headed in the right direction. They’re a fun group, and I appreciate their lyrics (“What did you learn at school? / I didn’t go /Why didn’t you go to school? /I don’t know”) and I think I’ve accepted them as my favorite band that’s come out of the 21st century. They remind me of Blur, for sure–I’m not the first one to make that connection (and unlike some, I’m not making it derisively). There’s a playful innocence about them that I like, something very unpretentious which makes it easier to embrace them and their music, rather than say, The White Stripes or The Strokes.
Though they may just be here for a short time, and offer just a mid afternoon snack rather than a three course meal, at least it’s light and digestible. And it tastes pretty good.