Kaiser Chiefs – Off With Their Heads

Leeds exports Kaiser Chiefs are renowned for their jukebox hits and soccer army anthems. Whilst never pressing on very serious issues, their 2005 debut Employment pleased all from Billboard to the NME.

With drummer-cum-lyricist Nick Hodgson spawning instant indie classics such as Oh My God, I Predict a Riot and Everyday I Love You Less and Less, the band named after a South African football team were well on their way to emulating their Britpop idols Blur. Hell, they even rose from their previous form as atrociously terrible –  “college rock’ Yank-wannabe band Parva to find this success.

Come 2007, Yours Truly, Angry Mob was the disappointing second album from the barmy-army chant machine. It played host to only a toddler’s handful of powerful tracks (the admittedly grand Ruby and Everything Is Average Nowadays; descriptive of this LP, perhaps?). Kaiser Chiefs had released their very own Think Tank. Unfortunately, where Blur was carving out its very own niche by deliberately attempting –  “new angles’, doing so without one half of the aforementioned Think Tank (Graham Coxon’s controversially departed half-way through recording), YTAM consisted of purely forgettable filler.

This brings us to Off With Their Heads, (yet another) bouncy, Jam-influenced Best Ever Beer Songs album. Lead single Never Miss a Beat is a wonderful exercise in echo-response, with cheeky lyrics such as, “What do you want for tea? /I want crisps” (!), fleshed out with backup vocals from Lily Allen and members of New Young Pony Club. DJ/producer-of-the-moment Mark Ronson (yes, brother to the Ronson dating/engaged to/marrying Li-Lo) twiddles some knobs throughout the album, but whether this is A) necessary or B) just pomp to amp up sales is another question.

Opener Spanish Metal is reminiscent of Supergrass, with guitar hooks and circus organs aplenty. You Want History attempts to meld some edgier electronic into the Chiefs’ sound, and succeeds in getting one to sing along. Like It Too Much channels XTC’s Senses Working Overtime, featuring more mature lyrics than expected and some poncy strings. It works.

These decent tracks in the first third of Off With Their Heads would lead one to believe they are in for more of the same as the track numbers elapse. Unfortunately, songs such as Good Days Bad Days, Always Happens Like That and Addicted To Drugs are complete rubbish. In fact, the latter is so god-awful, that it is the cowbell rendition of Robert Palmer’s classic Addicted to Love the world never needed to hear. Furthermore, Tomato in the Rain is as yawn-provoking as the title suggests, and closer Remember You’re a Girl is as fey as Kaiser Chiefs shouldn’t get.

All we have come to expect from the hyperactive Loiners are anthems ready-made for the FIFA computer games franchise, yet we have been given fodder even the most pampered WAGs would turn their noses at. Off With Their Heads is a waste of at least one irritatingly-good single and much promise. As the old adage goes, if you have nothing good to say, then you are much, much better off saying nothing at all. Or perhaps at least saving good singles up until you have an album worthy of hosting them.