Release Date: Apr 1, 2014
Record label: ATO
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
With their fifth album, these British rockers have settled into a sonic comfort zone. After the tepidly received The Future Is Medieval and Start the Revolution Without Me, Ricky Wilson and company return to their ferocious balance of post-punk and new wave. Add to that mix a smattering of rock anthems along with soaring guitars and sharpened songwriting and the result is a band that has found their collective groove.
This record should come with a case of Harp Lager and a picture of David Cameron to throw your empty cans at. Kaiser Chiefs' fifth album is full of frothingly pissed-off working-class British rock, with shades of glam, pub rock, the Jam's lefty-mod broadsides and Oasis at their most soccerhooligan-y. The wry Brit pop of Blair-era hits like "I Predict a Riot" has been displaced by dourness; that's what a few years of Tory rule will do.
Forget the title of this album for now. It has both a spurious origin and something that’s also somewhat more meaningful to the Kaiser Chiefs (and will become clear). Let’s consider the Kaiser Chiefs, a British band of some renown in their homeland and across Europe. Since the Kaisers first came on to the scene proper in 2005, there have been at least three models.
The fifth long-player from the Leeds-based festival rockers with a penchant for climbing lighting rigs and crafting innocuous, arm-waving anthems that fuse the anthemic scope of classic Brit-pop with the insular, somewhat opaque, progressive cynicism of early-2000s indie rock, begins with the rousing "Factory Gates," a distillation of all of those aforementioned attributes that sounds almost exactly like what is arguably their most well-known song, 2005's "I Predict a Riot. " Written in multiple cities and countries and recorded in Atlanta, Georgia with producer Ben Allen, Education, Education, Education & War promises the golden vistas of a new frontier, yet delivers once again the quintessential Kaiser Chiefs album. Even its moniker, a quote from former prime minister Tony Blair, is stuck in the past, but if there's one thing that Ricky Wilson and company excel at, it's being themselves, and this ten-track collection of paeans to permeable dissatisfaction is as much a tribute album as it is a defiant gaze into the abyss.
Lesser bands would have called it quits if they lost a founder member, even more so if he was the one who wrote all their songs, but Kaiser Chiefs have rallied admirably on fifth album ‘Education, Education, Education & War’. Initially, things seem positive: the epic ‘Misery Company’ twins theatrical flourishes with rock muscle, while ‘Cannons’ boasts a chorus custom-built for Ricky Wilson’s energetic live singalongs. However, only the subdued, melodic ‘Coming Home’ steers away from the bluster and delivers something deeper.
Kaiser Chiefs have never again reached the heights of their 2005 debut album Employment. In fact, it wouldn’t be unfair to say that the career of the Leeds five-piece has been on a downward spiral ever since, with each subsequent release more forgettable than the last. However, while the albums have not lived up to expectations, the Kaiser Chiefs have managed to pull the odd single out of the bag every now and then.
Review Summary: Kaiser Chiefs learning how to play themselves once again.The Kaiser Chiefs have been slowly fading out of the public's eye in the past five years or so, in a struggle to maintain their commercial success while also making efforts to keep themselves relevant by maturing both lyrically and musically. Their appeal was mainly based on catchy singles and less on full lengths, as they often lacked substance. Off With Their Heads was pretty much hit and miss and things have only gotten worse with the fairly uninteresting and bloated Future Is Medieval.
At a certain point in life, you start taking your job “seriously.” You stop making up excuses to take a day off. You iron your shirts. You wear ties. You tie them yourself. You stop slacking off, or at least seriously cut back on it. You start calling it a “career.” It’s an inevitable ….
The latest Kaisers album is charged with three tasks: prove that the Chiefs can pen hits without principal Kaiser Nick Hodgson, validate Ricky Wilson's seat on The Voice and convince a primetime audience unacquainted with indie that perky guitar pop about war is something they need in their phones. From the opening riff of The Factory Gates, a nicely sour, nagging sneer at corporatism, EEE&W is better than you'd think. Though the anthemic Coming Home could have been penned for Voice viewers, hits are unlikely – they'd require a market for roistering English indie, and that remains in deep recession.
Ricky Wilson admits he signed up for The Voice to help the Kaiser Chiefs' fifth album get a bit more attention. After the departure of drummer and main songwriter, Nick Hodgson, and the protracted withering of British indie rock itself, it's easy to admire his shrewd decision to use his new role as a prime-time fixture to his band's advantage. Still, they choose not to waste their reinvigorated profile on flippancy: if the album title's twist on Blair's 1997 election pledge isn't evidence enough of their politically minded intentions, then the Bill Nighy-assisted poem on the wastefulness of war included here certainly affirms their desire for cultural significance.
Reviews of the latest releases from Kaiser Chiefs, The Hold Steady, Foster the People, SOHN, Timbre Timbre, Mr Little Jeans, Oceaán, Evian Christ and Pill Wonder. Kaiser Chiefs, Education, Education, Education & War After allowing fans to DIY a Kaiser Chiefs album – buyers could choose their favorite tunes from a pool of 20 songs for a custom track list – 2011’s abysmal Start the Revolution Without Me surely must have seemed like rock bottom to lead singer Ricky Wilson and the boys from Leeds. Diminishing returns have been the name of the game since their earworm of a debut, the Mercury-nominated Employment, blew up 2004, and every subsequent album has yielded fewer and fewer hits, and even fewer genuine pleasures.
I can’t tell you what a massive kick in the dick it was to learn that old Ricky Wilson was back on the scene, after appearing to have finally shat his broken-faced abomination of a band into the rubbish compacter of musical history three years ago. In the kick in the dick stakes, this old dick’s seen its fair share of action of late. Jake Bugg – have a bit of that, dick.