Yours Truly, Angry Mob
ards on the table: I don’t like Kaiser Chiefs. Actually, if I’m honest, it’s not just aimless indifference—they properly piss me off. This irritation is compounded by the fact that I can’t quite put my finger on why I dislike them. Superficially, they’re harmless Britpop revivalists. Perhaps that they’re from Leeds even though their aesthetic screams “cheeky cockney” (one of them wears a porkpie hat, for god’s sake); or maybe it’s just the fact that they keep being compared to Blur but have evidenced precisely none of that band’s charm, poise, intelligence, or musical breadth. With “I Predict a Riot,” they took it upon themselves to critique the Chav generation, but who are they to critique? What, precisely, are they offering as an alternative; and is that alternative actually any better?
Nevertheless, Kaiser Chiefs’ debut album shifted something in the region of three million copies—big cheese in today’s climate—and is still turning over enough to let them buy fresh deli sandwiches forevermore. Whichever way you look at it, Employment contained a slew of contagious singles. But following breakthrough albums these days, especially debuts, seems a more fraught process than ever before—look at what happened to Franz Ferdinand.
This being Kaiser Chiefs, the rulebook is followed slavishly. So of course lead single “Ruby” opens the record, and comes on like a genetic splice of Springsteen and Chas & Dave, epic chords and choruses meeting rinky-dink piano and Cockney rhyming slang (it is about going for a curry, right?) as they attempt to improve on their debut by doing it again, but bigger, and with more scowling.
The rinky-dink pianos and sweeping arrangements reappear on the next song, “The Angry Mob,” coupled with some truly classy lyrics about “24-hour drinking” and how “we need entertainment / To keep us all off the streets.” It gets worse. The enormous, repeated refrain runs “We are the angry mob / We read the papers everyday / We like who we like / We hate who we hate / But we’re all so easily swayed”—sub-sixth-form sociology.
Any residual humor from their debut is mercilessly replaced with the kind of depthless sincerity that British rockers all suffer from today. There’s simply no charm or subtlety on show here, and not even any cheeky, bona fide pop thrills in the vein of “Everyday I Love You Less & Less.” It’s this relentlessness that’s the worst thing about Yours Truly, Angry Mob—even when they try and do a ballad on “Love Is Not a Competition (But I’m Winning)” the melody is so forced that it completely fails to scan. Awful song titles, awful songs, awful production, awful sentiments; this album is pretty close to disgusting. It makes my skin crawl. I can only hope that the title and lyrics of “Everything Is Average Nowadays” are deeply, deliberately ironic....