Album Reviews

Kaiser Chiefs – Kaiser Chiefs’ Easy Eighth Album

(Kaiser Chiefs Recordings) UK release date: 1 March 2024

Gone are the terrace anthems with the singalong choruses, and in their place come slinky pop-funk tunes and a Nile Rodgers guest appearance

Kaiser Chiefs - The Kaiser Chiefs' Easy Eighth Album In one of those ‘prepare to feel old’ moments, it is, believe it or not, 20 years this year since a South African football club stopped being the most famous Kaiser Chiefs and handed the baton over to a indie band from Leeds. Ricky Wilson and company released I Predict A Riot back in November 2004, and they’ve been a regular fixture in the charts since then.

Wilson in particular has moved into the light entertainment stratosphere – not only a judge on the ITV talent show The Voice and an appearance on The Masked Singer as a phoenix, but also an actor, TV presenter and (inevitably) a podcaster. It’s to his band’s credit that they’ve kept going, even as their frontman breaks out from the indie niche.

Kaiser Chiefs’ Easy Eighth Album (a title that will either make you chuckle or grind your teeth in pained frustration, depending on where you stand) is a bit of a departure for the Leeds quintet. Gone are the terrace anthems with the singalong choruses, and in their place come slinky pop-funk tunes and a Nile Rodgers guest appearance (complete with trademark clipped guitar). Yes, Kaiser Chiefs have now gone full-on pop.

Whether this change of direction will provoke a riot amongst their hardcore fans remains to be seen. It’s certainly a new sound that takes some getting used to. Opening track Beautiful Girl isn’t so much of a drastic change from their old sound, although the resemblance to Coldplay‘s undistinguished latter-era moments doesn’t go unnoticed.

Rodgers’ influence can be heard in How 2 Dance and it just feels weirdly lifeless- it’s one of those songs that seems like its building up to a big chorus, which never arrives. Worst of all, Wilson’s lyrics are devoid of the sardonic humour that’s usually his trademark – is the man who wrote “Watching the people get lairy, it’s not very pretty I tell thee” now just reduced to platitudes about teaching people to dance? It would appear so.

Some aspects of this new sound do work though – The Job Centre Shuffle has a devilishly funky twist to it which builds up a real head of steam, and even a Mariachi-style trumpet doesn’t sound too out of place. The lyrically self-referential Burning In Flames is another high point, an ’80s tinged disco swoon that would give The Killers a run for their money, while Sentimental Love Songs could be a throwback to the band’s early days, with its big, singalong chorus.

A fair amount of the Easy Eighth Album though does sound weirdly dated. They suffer in comparison to their fellow Yorkshire tykes, Yard Act for example – a band who know how to write savage social commentary and wrap it up in songs that make you want to dance. Too much of this record sounds like a pale copy of other artists – explicitly so in the case of a song like the aptly titled Noel’s Groove which could have been an off-cut from a High Flying Birds album.

It ends on The Lads, which seems to be an attempt to claw back any old fans turned off by the new direction – a big chorus of “we’re the lads, we’re the lads, we have no idea where we’re going” probably revealing a bit too much. Sadly, too much of the Easy Eighth Album sounds a bit hollow and empty, the sound of a band wanting to move on, but without the energy to properly capture the old glory days.

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