Last night I decided to listen to Education, Education, Education and War, the new album by Kaiser Chiefs, which came out on Monday, 31 March. I haven't done that in ages, just listened to an album all the way through, without doing anything else at the same time. No texting, no cooking, no reading, just listening. So here are a few words about some of the tracks from the album.
Track one, Factory Gates, starts with the eerie sounds of a misty morning on a beach: wind, seagulls and then, suddenly, synths. When the track kicks in it's much more upbeat than the seagulls suggest. It instantly reminds me of Saturn Five by The Insipiral Carpets, which I loved as a kid, so it's a welcome reminder. The synth riffs continue, following the vocal melody closely, it's a punch of 90's and a touch of now. My favourite line doesn't come from the chorus, but from the second verse 'I record everyone of my failings', it's a bit of a statement about modern discontent, a forever universal topic.
The next track that strikes me is Misery Company. Back to what Kaiser Chiefs do best, up-tempo, indie- dance with a tinge of pop. Misery Company is a catchy phrase, simply because we've all been there: you're in the worst mood ever, but you've got company, so you still have to try and make conversation. My favourite moment of this track? The post chorus layered laughter, where roaring 'ha ha ha ha ha ha has' take over the track. This could be a good one for the festival circuit.
As the heavy guitar outro of Misery Company pounds on, I look ahead to the title of track four, Ruffians On Parade. There really isn't any beating a good riff, and two bars in Ruffians On Parade is lead into the first verse by a simple and memorable guitar lick. There's a bit of The Clash in here, the sentiment goes back to youth and boredom and misspent time. But it's the chorus triumphs in this song, with its falling melody lines and driving drums. Ruffians gets it just right, and is arguably the best song on the album.
A lengthy keyboard introduction brings in the next track, the moodier, Meanwhile up in Heaven. The lyrics in this song are really strong and big on imagery, they are attention grabbing and thematic. Words like 'guided by love on a flashlight, lead by consuming desire for good ideas' stand out because they are well considered.
Bows and Arrows, track eight, is a song full of definite Kaiser Chief's style. It's easy to see why this song was released as a single back in January, the sentiment is easy to understand, 'you and me are always bows and arrows' (one doesn't work without the other), and the tempo, along with the 'chanting' feel of the middle section, will all make for a great live tune.
Cannons is an almost 'Adam and the Ants' inspired 80's hip-shaker. Lyrically strong it has a simple drum beat through the verse and a playful keyboard sound that pokes through to the forefront every now and then. This is an awesome track which ties the content of the album to its title, saying 'you will be issued with a rifle on arrival chaps, for education, education and war'. There's something almost medieval , or prog rock, about the middle section of the song, which is lead by vocals and crunchy guitars alone. Cannons ends with an anti-war poem, The Occupation, which is a collaboration with actor Bill Nighy. In the background the eerie beach sounds return, but now you know they're not beach sounds at all, they are something more sinister than that. They are noises from a battlefield, sounds of landings by soldiers on coastlines during wars. The words 'the occupation of damnation eternal' spell it out.
All in all, I like this album, the band have done fine after losing Nick Hodgson. The album is varied and generally upbeat and pumping. And the band deals well with the heavier messages and themes on the album too. I'll have to do this again sometime, new albums in one sitting.