10.28.2008

Music Review: The Kaiser Chiefs' Off With Their Heads

by Vincent Lee

On the Kaiser Chiefs' second album Yours Truly, Angry Mob, the band wrote one song “Everything is Average Nowadays.” As cliché as it might sound, this is the best way of defining their new album Off With Their Heads. The new album is short, only 35 minutes and 11 songs (Off With Their Heads was released Oct. 20 in the U.K. and on Monday Oct. 27 in the U.S.), and the band employs a rather basic formula for each song. Musically, each song has one distinctive riff which carries throughout. Lyrically, one specific line, typically the song's title, is repeated for a large portion of the number. This is a very basic explanation of the Kaiser Chiefs' song formula and it may be somewhat unfair, but it is one of the only lasting impressions that really comes from listening to this album.

Though each song more or less fits the aforementioned model, most of the songs are, thankfully, distinguishable from one another. On previous albums from the Kaiser Chiefs, the band had a habit of randomly throwing in sounds like “Ah-ah-ah ah-ah, la la lalala la” or “Na Na Na Na Naa!” which would make up significant parts of the song. This technique, for the most part, is not present on Off With Their Heads. To stay creative a lot of the singing on this new release involves extra effects such as echoes or two voices going back and forth. This is most present on “Never Miss a Beat,” where the song opens with “What did you learn today/ I learned nothing/ What did you do today/ I did nothing” and so forth.

At times it seems like the Kaiser Chiefs include extra effects for the sake of adding something unique. The most notable random moment can be heard on the song “Half the Truth.” The first 2:50 or so of the song is rather catchy and solid, then out of seemingly nowhere a British rapper begins iterating a rap version of the chorus and song so far. The rap characterizes a large portion of the album's lyrics. Also, the main repeated line in each song is typically a summary of the entire song. Being that the majority of the songs on this album can be summarized by one line, it is obvious that lyrically Off With Their Heads does not offer much.

For the Kaiser Chiefs' third album, they have appeared to make a number of strides. Their songs have remained catchy and entertaining, with many of the irritating unnecessary vocal sounds being cut out. Unfortunately, other than that, little has developed. Most of the lyrics are rather basic or simply try too hard. Off With Their Heads is not a bad album, but it is certainly not anything special. Fans of the band will most likely love this, as it is an improved version of their previous work. Otherwise your enjoyment of this record most likely depends on how much depth you want from your music.

(The promotional photo of the Kaiser Chiefs performing in London is by Danny North for Universal Music Group. The band opens its world tour on Saturday, Nov. 1 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. To see the band's video for "Spanish Metal" from Off With Their Heads, please check below.)








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