Kaiser Chiefs - Off With Their Heads

Rare flashes of brilliance include the ska-lite 'You Want History' with a beat-heavy 'Angry Mob' style build-up.

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Released 20 Oct 2008 | B Unique | By Becky Reed | Rating: 2-5
Kaiser Chiefs - Off With Their Heads

This third album from Kaiser Chiefs was rushed, according to the band themselves, after EP sessions with Mark Ronson. And my goodness, does it show - 'Off With Their Heads' takes longer to warm to than it probably took to make. One of those LPs that require repeated listening before it gives up its few and far between treasures, but it's all too evident tracks like the psychedelic opener 'Spanish Metal' wouldn't have made b-sides in the 'Employment' days.

Rare flashes of brilliance are the ska-lite 'You Want History' with a beat-heavy 'Angry Mob' style build-up, which suits Ricky Wilson's now permanently sullen delivery, and lead single 'Never Miss A Beat'. The remainder is either fairly passable or borderline awful, with an underlying arrogance evident that they can churn out an album with so little regard for quality. Lyrically, Kaiser Chiefs have outdone themselves with banality - if a band has nothing to say, nothing burning inside them creatively, then for god's sake, give it a rest. It almost feels like the tired, last chance desperate cash-in a band normally in the last throes of their career would produce - there's no excuse for the Chiefs to be making this.

The pleasantly passable include 'Good Days Bad Days', which has the kind of chorus Chiefs excel at, but it is overshadowed by cringe-inducing verses. The strings on 'Like It Too Much', arranged by Bond composer David Arnold, are a subtle and welcome progression, and 'Tomato In The Rain' combines old organs and nifty guitar work to charming effect. The delightful 'Always Happens Like That' sees the headline-grabbing inclusion of Lily Allen on vocals actually work to a great advantage. Kinks reminiscent, it's when you realise that the production saves the album from total disaster - the muted, retro feel plays down the gormless subject matters, leaving the strengths of Kaiser Chiefs - the inescapably wonderful melodies. Anything bolder, or jauntier, would've made the songs tire very quickly, as per second album 'Yours Truly, Angry Mob'.

An unfortunate low point is the unforgiveable 'Addicted To Drugs', which can't even use ripping off Robert Palmer's classic 80s track to a half-decent effect. Then the flaccid 'Remember You're A Girl', sung by drummer Nick Hodgson brings the album to an unremarkable end. If this release was some no-mark indie band's debut, it would be quite impressive, but this is the third album from one of the country's once stand-out hopes, and as a result feels lazy, and devoid of any inspiration. Playing safe is for bands who are one-dimensional and bereft of talent - the undeniably gifted tunesmith Hodgson is wasting his ability on this frustrating and half-hearted effort. Kaiser Chiefs were once referred to as Blur wannabes, but it's looking more like they are aping an Oasis-like career path.