Release Date: Oct 7, 2016
Record label: Caroline
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
At one point in Kaiser Chiefs' sixth album, Stay Together, frontman Ricky Wilson declares "Pop music. This is pop music. We are writing and recording pop music." Indeed, Stay Together marks a giant shift for the Leeds band. It's a cheery collection that celebrates love and life, incorporating electronic dance elements, funky bass rhythms, and a shiny sheen courtesy of Xenomania's Brian Higgins (Kylie Minogue, Sugababes, New Order), mixer Serban Ghenea (Rihanna, Taylor Swift), and songwriters Wayne Hector (One Direction, Westlife) and MNEK (Beyoncé, Madonna).
You could argue that Kaiser Chiefs’ poptastic approach killed off louche, literary 00s indie – its death knell a chorus of embarrassing dads bellowing along to I Predict a Riot. A decade on, however, and all that is a distant memory – these days, with their talent-show-judge frontman and bombastic but essentially genreless pop, Kaiser Chiefs have more in common with Take That than Larrikin Love. This sixth record sees the band take this nondescript sound and stuff it impressively full of sing-a-long hooks, covering topics including monogamy (We Stay Together) and shagging (Good Clean Fun).
More than a decade into their highly successful run, Kaiser Chiefs are now firmly in pivot mode. Their latest, Stay Together, features some catchy hooks and soaring moments, but it’s also the least they’ve ever sounded like an actual band. Working with veteran pop producer Brian Higgins, who steered acts like Girls Aloud and The Wanted on a path to chart domination, the Leeds cohort is clearly trying to distance themselves from the frenetic, freewheeling Britpop they’ve honed over their previous five LPs (“You don’t want to just be dinosaurs with guitars”, bassist Simon Rix told NME about the new record).
On their sixth album, Stay Together, Kaiser Chiefs follow in their frontman Ricky Wilson's footsteps with their own makeover. They emerge as an arena-ready '80s pop band along the lines of Simple Minds or Big Country. Wilson sounds overly smooth and croon-y on "We Stay Together," while on "Hole In My Soul" the group's cartoonish attempt at modern sounds is strung together with a sickly thread of saccharine.
There is very little that Kaiser Chiefs haven’t done over the years to keep themselves relevant. Appear on a talent show? Done it. Release an album through a quirky new method? Been there. Had a song feature on an advert? Of course. Yet while it is easy to mock such self-promotion, the Leeds five ….
‘Parachute’, the album’s first single, shoots for voguish, vaguely tropical production via Kylie and Girls Aloud hitmakers Xenomania, but is a tad sappy. Wilson’s pop vocal is much more convincing on the album’s bangers, ‘Press Rewind’ and ‘Happen In A Heartbeat’. But it’s on ‘High Society’ – a strutting falsetto oddity – that the frontman unveils his roguish side and proves they’re still the same loveable band after all.