Release Date: Mar 6, 2012
Record label: B-Unique
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock
The path that led to the new Kaiser Chiefs album, Start the Revolution Without Me might not have been fraught with the same corporate tension as Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot or the threats of legal action and long periods of lethargy as the Stone Roses’ Second Coming, but it’s still every bit as winding. Kaiser Chiefs have lived inside a Britpop bubble since their debut album, Employment, arrived on the scene in 2005. It wasn’t the first go-round for the Kaiser Chiefs, of course.
Kaiser ChiefsThe Future is Medieval[Fiction / Universal; 2011]By Ray Finlayson; August 22, 2011Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGTweetThe initial release of Kaiser Chiefs’ fourth album, The Future is Medieval, was an interesting experiment. Fans chose ten unknown songs from a list of twenty, made their own artwork from the designs given and downloaded it all for a set price. But the detail that made it fascinating was that once a fan made their own version of the album, they could sell it to others and make money from every sale.
When Kaiser Chiefs, then one of several arriving-in-bulk buzzy British rock bands (despite existing for nearly a decade prior), performed at Lollapalooza in 2005, frontman Ricky Wilson wasn’t feeling too well. His illness caused him to lose his voice, and a lucky fan got to step in and belt out “Oh My God” in his stead. Wilson remained on stage, red-faced and dancing like a boss, and the band provided one of the most energetic sets of the weekend.
Despite the unlikely presence of hotshot producer Mark Ronson, terrace anthem extraordinaires Kaiser Chiefs' previous album, Off with Their Heads, failed spectacularly to stop the rot that appears to have set in amongst the wave of British indie pop bands that dominated the mid-2000s, selling just a tenth of their 2005 debut, Employment. Refusing to admit defeat, the Leeds quintet has continued to think outside the box for its fourth effort, Start the Revolution Without Me, but this time round it's the release strategy, rather than any changes in musical direction, that's attracting all the attention. Joining the likes of Radiohead and Ash on the list of bands attempting to change the way we buy music, Ricky Wilson and company have allowed fans the opportunity to become A&R men by asking them to choose their favorite ten songs (from 20 made available), running order, and cover artwork from their official website for a fixed fee.
The Kaiser Chiefs hold an awkward place in the 2005 class of British post-punk revivalists. They never had a problem matching the kinetic energy of Maximo Park or the Futureheads, but Ricky Wilson and company seemed to lack the endearing underdog quality their peers flaunted so effortlessly. In fact, the Kaiser Chiefs were an odd placement into the post-punk class in the first place.
To truly critique The Future Is Medieval, I’ll have to rely on some inductive argument in an attempt to remove the past six years of context that surround the Kaiser Chiefs. To do so I will have to pray on a little faith on the part of your good self – it should prove a worthwhile exercise. Imagine a world in which the Kaiser Chiefs and all their predecessors never existed, one in which their acclaimed first record, Employment, was never conceived from the dingy basements of Leeds semis; imagine that Ruby never became a number one single; and that the inglorious success of Off With Their Heads simply never came to pass.
When is an album not an album? When it looks like this... Mike Diver 2011 Leeds’ Kaiser Chiefs aren’t a band immediately associated with innovation – their perky indie-pop has livened up many a festival with a series of "nah-nah-nah-nah-nah"-style nonsense, but their popularity has never been founded upon originality. But the five-piece have looked to a potential future for music distribution for their fourth album, allowing fans to compile their own version of The Future Is Medieval from their official website.