Whatever about the title of the new Arctic Monkeys' album, Kaiser Chiefs are really asking you, the punter, to suck it and see with their fourth offering. The Leeds band have offered their audience a chance to tailor make their own customised Chiefs album by choosing from twenty tracks the band have streamed on their website for download. You can also design your very own cover art, and even make money from selling your bespoke version on to their mates. It’s a canny enough move but does the actual music back up the business plan?
Well three years after the underperforming Off With Their Heads, the northern Blur have returned with a new sense of urgency and purpose. The thankfully short-lived Britpop revival having passed, the Chiefs delve deeper into the pop archive and go back to the source material itself on If You Will Have Me, which finds Ricky Wilson doing a Lennon impression but singing sentiments that are pure McCartney. The lager louts with a sense of irony act has also been forsaken for a darkening worldview not least on Starts With Nothing, a jaundiced summation of the grim grind of life. When All is Quiet borrows the ringing riff and harmonies from Getting Better and throttles along on its merry Beatlesque way while the Chiefs toy with retro futurism of Man on Mars and the agitated 70s Bowie meets 80s synth pop of Things Change. Wilson’s strongest moment comes with Child of Jago, a song that proves that he’s got something of the word-smithery of Ray Davis and Weller. Eyebrows un-arched and cheeky grins erased, this is as clear-headed and as strong a statement, both musical and otherwise, as Kaiser Chiefs have made.
It's not a bad business plan either.