loc Party are this year’s Franz Ferdinand!" I hear a hundred music writers cry. I don’t know what they mean and nor, I suspect, do they. Do they sound like them? (No.) Are they going to be as successful? (No.) Are they going to win a bucketful of Brit Awards? (Almost certainly not.) No one is ever the new anyone. Are they?
Kaiser Chiefs are here to save Bloc Party from the “this year’s FF” tag. Why? Because Bloc Party will sell nowhere near as many records as FF have done, and Kaiser Chiefs will. That doesn’t mean that Kaiser Chiefs are the new Franz Ferdinand though. They’re the new Blur. (Do you see what I did there?)
First up, Kaiser Chiefs are the most London band I’ve heard for an age, but they’re actually from Leeds (even taking their name from the former club of Leeds United legend Lucas Radebe), meaning that by rights they should be epic and morose and windswept. Instead they are tight, quirky, punky in the Blondie way rather than the Gang Of Four way, fond of the kind of piano jaunt that reminds more of Chas & Dave than Eric Satie. The sleeve notes refer to their drummer as “The drummist”. The keyboard player is called Peanut and wears a porkpie hat. They have a song called “Caroline, Yes” which sounds a tiny bit like Weezer.
Formed with the modest intention of blagging an early slot at last year’s Leeds festival, Kaiser Chiefs wear their Britpop heritage on their sleeve. Current vogue in the British media may be for straggly looking men playing bad Clash rip offs in the style of a skiffle band loaded on Buckfast Tonic Wine, but the public is fed up of half-songs and tabloid skirmishes, and more than ready for a band into reviving the 90s. The album kicks off in strong fashion with the turbo-charged “Everyday I Love You Less And Less”, (surely a future single), 80s synth buzzes and a snotty vocal presaging a cheeky chorus that was born for British summertime radio.
First single “I Predict A Riot” is rollicking but never loses its heavy sense of melody, and it’s this chirpy compulsion to load every tune with pop hooks that’s going to see them crack the UK like a plumber smashing up an old bath with a lump hammer. “You Can Have It All” meanwhile is vaguely redolent of Brian Eno’s wonderful “I’ll Come Running (To Tie Your Shoe)” as played by Athlete before they gave into their Christian Rock instinct and went boring.
“Oh My God” nods its head through a bounce-friendly, Modern Life Is Rubbish-esque verse before a trendily punky chorus distils the sound of British rock music in the year 2005 to a pure, clear grain of sand, while still managing to squeeze the word “tectonic” into the lyrics and rip off Chumbawumba’s maddeningly ubiquitous (in 1997) “Tub Thumping”. “Modern Way” may slow the tempo for a moment but it never shuns a keening harmony or hummable chorus. This is the kind of post punk that loves The Specials and XTC rather than Wire and Joy Division. There’s little of Bloc Party’s crystalline darkness but quite a lot of The Killers’ dancefloor friendly bass fuzz and keyboard buzz – “Na Na Na Na Naa” could be ripped straight from Hot Fuss (assuming CC DeVille had been drafted in for the extraordinary guitar solo).
Employment is like a shock and awe barrage of bluster and tunes. They are destined, as far as anyone is ever destined, to rule the radio in this country for at least the next nine months. But they don’t make my heart stop or my eyes swell. I can’t love them, which isn’t to say that you wont.