Kaiser Chiefs ‘Stay Together’ – Review

8 Oct

Kaiser Chiefs have always had a populist bent and competitive drive that would see them sell their own mothers for a number one. Underpinning this is a desire to be top dogs in every sense (they did name an early single ‘Loves Not A Competition, but I’m winning’ – that’s just who they are). So the same impulse that led to lead singer Ricky Wilson becoming a judge on The Voice and host of a sky one quiz show has now influenced a complete artistic about-turn on the Xenomania produced ‘Stay Together’. The adrenaline fuelled indie rock of yore has been squeezed in to a sickly sweet electro-pop sound that dispenses with subtlety (‘this is pop music, we are writing and recording pop music’ repeats an American voice on the Pet Shop Boys aping ‘Press Rewind’), riffs and good taste. Hey, anything to stay in the public eye right?

Good taste is probably overrated anyway, and what little Kaiser Chiefs ever had isn’t particularly missed. The problem isn’t that Kaiser Chiefs have ballooned in to an unflattering and awkwardly positioned pop monster. The problem is that it serves absolutely no purpose because they left the tunes at home. To put it another way; nobody is going to want to be your friend if you’re a horrible person on the inside, no matter how fabulously you’re dressed. ‘Stay Together’ is flashy on the outside but totally nondescript at its very core.

Lead single ‘Parachute’ is shamelessly produced to tick all the right boxes – it’s got a drop, a nagging hook, four to the floor beat and the cleanest spit polish Caroline records could afford. It just isn’t all that memorable. Neither is second single ‘Hole in my Soul’, opener ‘We Stay Together’, the punny ‘High Society’ or the more familiarly indie ‘Still Waiting.’ ‘Good Clean Fun’ is memorable but only for the cringe inducing lyrics which go ‘why are you so mad, sex makes everything better’. Kaiser Chiefs used to be funny and you get the impression that is what they were going for here. It doesn’t work. Then again Kaiser Chiefs also used to have insatiable energy, they used to be socially aware, they used to have a group dynamic, and they used to write catchy choruses. They used to be a different band.

This isn’t Kaiser Chiefs finest hour. They barely resemble the original incarnation of the band who were irritating and repetitive but loveable and full of personality. ‘Stay Together’ is mostly an anonymous sounding and bland record. The title is an imperative – ‘stay together’ – but at what cost? They once sang ‘everyone is following the craze, everything is average nowadays’ which in the rearview mirror looks increasingly like a self fulfilling prophecy.

3/10

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