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In spite of being named after a South African football team, Kaiser Chiefs are as Britpop as can be. Liam Gallagher has derided them as “a bad Blur”, which is only half right: they’re actually rather a good Blur, turning out effortlessly catchy songs laced with acid social commentary and frothy “na-na-na’s”, like a cross between a kitchen-sink drama and an Ealing comedy.
Their new album Yours Truly, Angry Mob, the follow-up to their £2.8m-selling debut Employment, tips the balance towards the kitchen sink. “The Angry Mob” gripes at reactionary tabloid readers; other tracks are about failing relationships and the fact that, as one song groans, “everything is going down the pan”. It’s classic second album syndrome: the twinkle in the eye of their first album has been replaced by world-weariness and an odd tang of resentment.
It doesn’t sound very encouraging, and the first new song they played at tonight’s show, “Ruby”, with its dour, fallen-out-of- love lyrics and witless power-pop chorus, left me fearing the worst. Yet this proved to be a false omen, for the Kaiser Chiefs proceeded to play a highly entertaining show that was rescued by the generous sprinkling of hits from Employment in their set, and also by the irrepressible urge to entertain that shines forth in even the most downcast moments of their new album.
Although “High Royds” opened with the singer Ricky Wilson moaning about “rubbish” nights out when he was young, the song itself, propelled by jittery new-wave keyboards and charged guitar riffs, was considerably more enjoyable. “Thank You Very Much” balanced deflating lyrics such as “This should be a thrill, but it feels like a drill” with knockout pop-punk harmonies. “Retirement” was both ominous and bouncy, a sing-along complaint against the treadmill of life. Jadedness has never sounded so jolly.
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