Review Summary: The Kaiser Chiefs mature both musically and lyrically, but lose the fun and energy that made their divisive debut so memorable.
Oh oh, it’s a British band releasing a 2nd full-length album… You know what that means… Watch as they come crashing down after a successful, if divisive, debut! In making the choice between replicating the almost childish fun of ‘Employment’ and attempting to grow as a band, Leeds lads the Kaiser Chiefs have decided upon the latter. That may not seem apparent initially as lead single ‘Ruby’ kicks off with “la la laas” and has that distinct Brit-Pop catchiness that dominated their debut. However, as the song progresses; a fuller thicker sound musically becomes apparent to outline the band’s maturity this time around.
As if to hammer the point home, the following track titled ‘The Angry Mob’ also shows that the Kaiser Chiefs are unafraid to experiment with structure. This 3rd single progresses nicely enough for three or so minutes, before the piece then transforms into a musically darker cut that includes an anthemic and repetitive sing-along in which lead vocalist Ricky Wilson laments on the ability of tabloids to suck in many mindless sheep; “We are the angry mob, we read the papers every day. We like who we like, we hate who we hate, but we’re also easily swayed”.
The lyrical improvement of the band is evident on ‘Yours Truly, Angry Mob’. Despite still falling into the trap of getting too repetitive and/or corny at times, there is usually a story of some sort to be told within the tracks. In most cases, it concerns the working middle class and different aspects of their lives. At times, it is involving, and at other times, it is boring… Just like the lives of the working middle class, funnily enough. However, it is still advisable not to examine the song’s lyrics too closely as the deficiencies will soon become all too apparent.
So if the Kaiser Chiefs have matured musically and lyrically, then what is this album’s downfall? Well, quite simply, it is its lack of overall quality and lasting value. ‘Yours Truly, Angry Mob’ is arguably more even and consistent than ‘Employment’. It is inoffensive and will be despised by fewer listeners, but it sort of just plods along at the one pace for most of its duration. Songs such as ‘Heat Dies Down’, ‘I Can Do It Without You’, ‘Learnt, My Lesson Well’ and the acoustic 4th single ‘Loves Not A Competition (But Im Winning)’ are all decent, but totally unspectacular and not very memorable at all.
Choosing the 2nd single from this lot must have been a terribly difficult decision to make! But when the draw was made out of a hat, the accolade went to the sub 3 minute up-tempo rocker that is ‘Everything Is Average Nowadays’. It is decent and its pace distinguishes it a little from the pack, but at the end of the day, the title of the song says it all really. Slightly better, although possibly no more suitable to be released as a single, is the closing ‘Retirement’, whose distinct guitar riff provides an effective darker tone in amongst the involving lyrical theme that is tinged with an impressive sardonic air. Earlier, ‘My Kind Of Guy’ has the same kind of feel with a little side-serving of melody to further distinguish it.
In a sense, this may have been the album that the Kaiser Chiefs had to have in order to progress. You can see everything that they have attempted here, but the results leave a lot to be desired. Their maturation, both musically and lyrically, is admirable. As is the attempt to provide a more rock-oriented feel and keep the “la la las” and “na na nas” of their debut to a minimum. But the unfortunate trade off is that ‘Yours Truly, Angry Mob’ loses not only the fun, energy and entertainment factor of ‘Employment’, but also the memorability factor and lasting value as the band becomes comfortable with their new sound.
Recommended Tracks: Ruby, Retirement & The Angry Mob.