The Kaiser Chiefs are on a roll

[12 April 2007]

By Jim Farber

New York Daily News (MCT)

The Kaiser Chiefs don’t write love songs for a good reason. “They’ve been done to death,” says singer Ricky Wilson. “Besides, the best bit about falling in love is before you actually meet the person - when you just see them across a room and find out their name. From there it’s all downhill.”

Such sentiments have earned the Chiefs reputations as misogynists in the U.K., where they can take some solace in their current reign as million-selling superstars. It’s been a quieter ride for the Chiefs in the United States, where no one has flinched at their sometimes antisocial lyrics and where their brilliant debut, 2005’s “Employment,” has sold a modest 350,000 copies.

Last week, the cheeky quintet issued their spirited second work, “Yours Truly, Angry Mob.”

Wilson says he’s unconcerned about the band’s status as underdogs here. “I don’t want to spend two years playing to 20 people in Delaware to make it in America,” he says. “We care too much about our sanity.”

They care even more about the way the media initially cast them - as one more band in the `80s revivalist movement, along with Franz Ferdinand and the Killers. In fact, the Chiefs’ single “I Predict a Riot” did sound like the best single of 1982.

Wilson admits the `80s bent, but argues: “We were all born in 1978. You can’t not be influenced by all that’s around you.”

The band took pains to expand their approach for “Angry Mob.” For one thing, it’s quasipolitical, featuring songs that carp about the idiot opinions people mimic from the media (“Angry Mob”) and the culture’s across-the-board decline of quality (“Everything Is Average Nowadays”).

The former was inspired by the media’s beloved panic stories. “For a month everyone in Europe was supposed to be dying of bird flu,” Wilson says. “I don’t know. None of my friends got it.”

The latter addresses the flimsiness of modern works, ranging from “restaurants to movie endings to architecture,” Wilson says. “Years ago you’d have a great cathedral. Now the new architecture is all about out-of-town shopping centers and Ikeas.”

The singer says his band took a more opinionated tone this time to prove “we’re aware of a world outside of leather jackets and tight jeans.”

It wasn’t always that way. The members obsessed on the music scene for 10 years while they were struggling to make it. They played together in a previous group called Parva that got signed, then instantly dropped. Wilson thinks the snub was deserved. “We were an average indie band,” he says.

All that changed with “Employment.” Its spiky songs soared on snarky sentiments like “Everyday I Love You Less and Less” and “What Did I Ever Give You?” The band’s latest U.K. smash, “Ruby,” almost addresses love, but settles on lust. If that causes some people to wonder about the band’s prickly view of life, Wilson remains unfazed. “Pop songs are just opinions,” he says. “In the top 100, there should be space for plenty of them.”

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/article/the-kaiser-chiefs-are-on-a-roll/