April 4, 2007

Surely they could retire, but why? Kaiser Chiefs' "Angry Mob" is poised for great things

There's a problem in modern music. Not enough bands want to write really catchy, imaginative lyrics. There's something to be said for the sardonic, for the tongue-in-cheek. For those who share this lament, there are two bands that can satiate. One is up-and-comers The Feeling, who love it when you call and sing a ballad to a crayon. But preceding The Feeling, and possibly outlasting them in the end, is the Kaiser Chiefs.

Their new release is titled, in true Kaiser Chiefs style, "Yours Truly, Angry Mob". And it is a little angrier than their previous album; the guitars are slightly more distorted, the instrumentation is more fine-tuned, and you can feel more urgency in singer Ricky Wilson's voice. This is a common move for the sequel to the breakthrough album; Green Day's 1995 effort "Insomniac" pushed the pedal, Bloc Party's new release "A Weekend In The City" is undeniably darker, and Finger Eleven can claim "The Greyest Of Blue Skies" as their hardest album. Back to the Chiefs.

Chiefs' lyrics don't disappoint, providing gems such as "Due to lack of interest/Tomorrow is canceled" ("Ruby"), "There are many things that I would be proud of/If I'd only invented them such as the wheel/The washing machine and the tumble dryer/On these inventions surely I could retire" (from the fun, catchier-than-Ruby closer "Retirement"), and "It's just seven days/It feels like a week" ("Learnt My Lesson Well"). There are places where the delivery needs work and the words feel squeezed in or tacked on ("Highroyds" comes to mind), but stylistically the Chiefs don't drop the ball and every track is bearable if not truly enjoyable. The low points are probably "Everything Is Average Nowadays" and "Ruby". After hearing the rest of the album, "Ruby" feels thrown in as a bonus track and the album truly begins at "The Angry Mob". It's not to say that either of these songs are horrible; they're fun, but not up to the level of the rest of the album. Especially not the amusing piano intro to "Learnt My Lesson Well," which can be found separately as "Boxing Champ".

If you're stuck on the Chiefs' first album, you may not be thrilled about this album, much as Killers fans obsessed with "Hot Fuss" may feel offset by "Sam's Town". But it's definitely a fun album and worth picking up.

Final Score: 87.

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