Few in British indie pop have the charisma of Kaiser Chiefs' singer Ricky Wilson. The leader of this precocious quintet from Leeds, Wilson said as a youngster that he would not go to the Glastonbury Festival until he was on stage. Wilson led his band to the main stage two years ago on the back of their triumphant debut Employment, which shifted almost 3 million copies.So, to the notoriously difficult second album. That the band's influences (Madness, Blur, Pulp, the Smiths) are still transparent is not a bad thing. The first single Ruby and the likely hit Thank You Very Much are evidence. Yet it's Everything Is Average Nowadays that is the album highlight. Wilson's descriptive, introspective lyrics with a social conscience come to the fore. And there are swipes at the shallowness of pop culture.Kaiser Chiefs dodge the "second album syndrome" bullet. This is the standard version.
If your previous album was a slow-burning success story, it can be hard to be expected to hit the ground running on the follow-up. Fortunately, the Kaiser Chiefs have done just that on the fantastically titled Yours Truly, Angry Mob
. Like Employment
, their debut and this album's predecessor, Yours Truly...
is full of radio-friendly, hook-ridden tunes that mask cunningly subversive lyrics. The Kaiser Chiefs are very much a Britpop band, which is probably why "Highroyds" opening couplet--"I remember nights out when we were young/They weren't very good, they were rubbish"--sounds like something Jarvis Cocker would sing while being backed by the boys from Blur. And it's this lyrical sentiment that's carried throughout the album, much of which is satire wrapped up in potential singles. Best of all, and a perfect example of this, is "The Angry Mob," sure to be shouted along to by exactly the people it's targeting. It's the rare band that can mock and judge its audience and still be loved by them, but that's exactly what the Kaiser Chiefs have done on Yours Truly, Angry Mob. --Ted Kord