Specializing in a melodic blend of classic Brit-pop, post-punk, and new wave, Kaiser Chiefs' early blue-collar, pub-style take on indie rock managed to split the difference between timely and nostalgic. Comprising vocalist Ricky Wilson, guitarist Andrew White, bassist Simon Rix, keyboardist Nick Baines, and drummer Nick Hodgson, Kaiser Chiefs resurrected the mod spirit of the Jam in "I Predict a Riot," a supercharged class-of-1977 power pop single that quickly electrified the British press when it was released in 2004. The song was inspired by Wilson's days as a club DJ in Leeds, England, where the group was formed. The single and Kaiser Chiefs' pogo-inducing, boot-stomping live performances had them pegged as rising stars in the neo-new wave revolution with Franz Ferdinand, Dogs Die in Hot Cars, and the Futureheads. When Kaiser Chiefs' first 7", "Oh My God," reached number 66 on the U.K. charts -- a startling achievement for an unsigned band -- doors opened for the group to share the stage with larger acts, consequently grabbing the attention of A&R scouts who wanted to sign them. "I Predict a Riot," on the other hand, reeled in U.S. modern rock radio programmers caught in a blooming new wave revival. Without an American label deal, Kaiser Chiefs (named after the South African football team) crash-landed on some of the biggest U.S. alternative stations with the "I Predict a Riot" import single in late 2004. That same year, they recorded their debut album, Employment, for the U.K. label B-Unique. The album was released domestically in the U.S. in spring 2005. The group's follow-up, Yours Truly, Angry Mob, arrived in the spring of 2007. The album featured one of their biggest hits, "Ruby." The next year, they expanded their lad-rock sound with Off with Their Heads. Featuring guest appearances by U.K. grime rapper Sway, composer David Arnold, production by Mark Ronson, and Lily Allen, who returned the love after her cover of Kaiser's "Oh My God" appeared on Ronson's covers project, Version. For their next project, the band opted for an unconventional release method. U.K. fans who pre-ordered the album were able to choose ten of 23 songs for the track listing of their own personalized version of the album, as well as personalized artwork. For everyone else, the final version of The Future Is Medieval was released for mass consumption in the U.K. in 2011. In the United States, four of the tracks -- "Out of Focus," "Long Way from Celebrating," "Dead or in Serious Trouble," and "Coming Up for Air" -- were swapped out for "On the Run," "Cousin in the Bronx," "Problem Solved," and "Can't Mind My Own Business" for the renamed 2012 version, Start the Revolution Without Me. That summer, following tours of the United Kingdom and North America, Kaiser Chiefs treated fans to Souvenir: The Singles 2004-2012, a definitive compilation of releases from a highly eventful eight-year period for the band. At the end of the year, Hodgson amicably parted ways with the band, his spot behind the kit filled in by Vijay Mistry. This was followed by the news that Ricky Wilson would be appearing in the touring stage show of Jeff Wayne's epic War of the Worlds in late 2012, playing the part of the Artillery Man, originally portrayed by David Essex. The year 2014 saw the release of Education, Education, Education & War, the band's fifth studio album and first to feature new drummer Mistry. The Kaisers returned in the summer of 2016 with a brand-new sound on the electronic dance-pop track "Parachute," the first single from their sixth album, Stay Together. Produced by Brian Higgins (Girls Aloud) and mixed by Serban Ghenea (Rihanna, Taylor Swift), Stay Together also included appearances by MNEK and One Direction songwriter Wayne Hector. Their seventh set, Duck, arrived in 2019. Produced with Ben H. Allen (Walk the Moon, Cut Copy), the album saw the group dial back some of the pop overload from Stay Together, finding a balanced middle ground on tracks such as "Wait" and "Record Collection." ~ Michael Sutton & Neil Z. Yeung
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 26, 2019 | Polydor Records
Kaiser Chiefs are out with a seventh studio album. Stay Together (2016) symbolized a drastic stylistic change for Ricky Wilson’s band, veering towards a trendy electro-pop formula. Duck goes the opposite way, perhaps in a nod to their early-2000s heyday. People Know How To Love One Another opens the album with an energetic chorus, powered by a horn section and layered synths. The super-positive message isn’t necessarily reflected in the rest of the album: although the music remains upbeat and catchy, Wilson discusses dating websites on Target Market’s yacht-rock groove, and political apathy with Don’t Just Stand There, Do Something. Several mentions of alcoholism and the musician lifestyle also pepper the record. The Kaiser Chiefs really shine when they stick to rock formulas, such as their first albums Employment (2005) and Yours Truly, Angry Mob (2007); it’s also the case on Duck. We’re excited to see their return to form with catchy songs that will no doubt find their home in stadiums and on the airwaves.
Alternative & Indie - Released October 7, 2016 | Caroline International
At one point in Kaiser Chiefs' sixth album, Stay Together, frontman Ricky Wilson declares "Pop music. This is pop music. We are writing and recording pop music." Indeed, Stay Together marks a giant shift for the Leeds band. It's a cheery collection that celebrates love and life, incorporating electronic dance elements, funky bass rhythms, and a shiny sheen courtesy of Xenomania's Brian Higgins (Kylie Minogue, Sugababes, New Order), mixer Serban Ghenea (Rihanna, Taylor Swift), and songwriters Wayne Hector (One Direction, Westlife) and MNEK (Beyoncé, Madonna). While the Kaisers may have started as Blur-lite party-starting lads, they're shooting for pop glory on Stay Together, in a fashion similar to Coldplay's jump on "A Sky Full of Stars" or A Head Full of Dreams. Taking it from the club to the disco, the party never stops, it's just the tempo that bobs and weaves. The main inspirations run the generational gamut. Classic New Order basslines abound. They channel Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life" on "Sunday Morning" and Let's Dance-era Bowie on the glorious opener, "We Stay Together," where Wilson does his best impression of Damon Albarn's falsetto commonly employed with his other band, Gorillaz. The distorted tropical vocal effects popularized by Jack U on the Justin Bieber hit "Where Are U Now" pop up on the explosively buoyant single "Hole in My Soul," while Empire of the Sun get a nod on the glimmering neo-disco jam "Indoor Firework." "Good Clean Fun" might be Kaiser Chiefs' first song overtly about sex, where Wilson dons an early-'90s George Michael jean jacket and gyrates his way through lines like "sex makes everything better." Most of these risks land without much distraction, but like the jarring addition of grime rap that appeared on Off with Their Heads, Stay Together will no doubt divide fans. For those who appreciate fearless exploration of new ideas from a band that is hungry for change and reinvigoration, the Kaisers' brave step into the future is a fun diversion from their usual rollicking and energetic rock show. While the pop flair and immediately addictive nature of these songs may not be as nourishing or urgent as past "rock" efforts, Stay Together is undeniably upbeat and revels in its conviction to make you move. ~ Neil Z. Yeung
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