Kaiser Chiefs

Off With Their Heads

Universal Motown

Nov 01, 2008 Year End 2008 - Best of 2008 Bookmark and Share


The most noticeable thing about the Kaiser Chiefs’ third long-player, Off With Their Heads, is its producer, Mark Ronson. The second most noticeable thing about Heads is its proliferation of guests: Lily Allen, New Young Pony Club, Sway, and David Arnold. Yet the Kaisers don’t need any of these elements to make them noticeable. Perhaps because this album is being released so close to the last one, something needed to be added to set it apart from their previous full-lengths.

Luckily Ronson hasn’t changed the Kaisers’ identifiably British sound and sentiments and Amy Winehoused them into something American and soulful. Rather, the producer has infused the Kaisers’ solid musicianship with some embellishments that feel like they’ve been taken from the band themselves. At times, Heads sounds quintessentially Kaisers—take “Like It Too Much,” where vocalist Ricky Wilson’s clipped delivery matches the guitar jabs and drum pounds perfectly. At other times, on “You Want History,” for instance, they take on a decidedly more electro-synthish tone, an ’80s dance style, that, while a stretch for the Kaisers, doesn’t end up as painful as it might. Instead, its upbeat mood adds to its infectiousness. “Half the Truth” is boisterous with its bold statements—this is taken to a dirty place with Sway’s input, making it even brasher. Heads ends on a gentle note with drummer Nick Hodgson vocalizing “Remember You’re a Girl,” channeling John Lennon in the process.

Yet with all the marquee involvement, Heads doesn’t have the obvious single choices. The Kaisers could have worked with just about anyone and ended up with an album that would have been comparable—and probably cost a lot less to make. (www.kaiserchiefs.co.uk)

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