July 26, 2019 Kaiser Chiefs – Duck (Album Review)
In the 2000s, Kaiser Chiefs were among the spearheaders of what prime movers in the British press dubbed as Post-Punk Revivalists, which included Doves (“Catch the Sun”), British Sea Power (“Childhood Memories”), and The Libertines (“Time for Heroes”). Formed in 2003, out of Leeds, England, as leaders of the movement they catapulted to popularity via singles like “Everyday I Love You Less and Less,” “I Predict a Riot,” and “Modern Way.” With six studio albums on their sleeves, from 2005’s Employment to 2016’s Stay Together, they return in 2019 with Duck.
Released on July 26th, 2019, through Polydor, the current lineup of Kaiser Chiefs – Ricky Wilson (lead vocals, percussion), Andrew White (guitar, backing vocals), Simon Rix (bass, backing vocals), Nick Baines (keyboards), and Vijay Mistry (drums, percussion) – put together eleven new songs produced by themselves along with the Grammy winning Ben H. Allen as well as Andrew Wells. It all begins with the upbeat and catchy “People Know How to Love Another,” harking to the Pop slant of their early albums but sans the frenetic tendencies. Still in the same melodic path albeit slower tempo, “Golden Oldies” exudes an influence of early-phase The Beatles (“She Loves You”). Following next is “Wait,” whose claps and beats reverberate faint echoes of OutKast’s “Hey Ya!”
Kaiser Chiefs then relax the mood with the semisolid drone and sentimental drip of “Target Market,” and then launch into the Alternative Rock predisposition of “Don’t Just Stand There, Do Something,” which will fit on a playlist that includes Weezer’s “Beverly Hills.” Then there is the album’s lead single, Dance Pop laden “Record Collection,” which comes across as a hybrid of Duran Duran (“Notorious”), The Killers (“Somebody Told Me”), and Franz Ferdinand (“Take Me Out”). The quintet then return to their New Wave/Shoegaze combo leaves with the fuzzy and driving “The Only Ones”—a sure album highlight.
Slowing the ambiance for a bit, “Lucky Shirt” is another future staple—cool, melodic, and playful—a la New Radicals’ “You Get What You Give.” The ensuing “Electric Heart” then returns the listener to ’60s Psychedelic Pop. The second-to-the-last track, “Northern Holiday,” follows with its bass-oriented groove and slightly funky ’80s Pop mode. Finally, the band wrap up Duck with the interestingly titled “Kurt vs Frasier (The Battle for Seattle)”—anthem-worthy, cheer-type, and feel-good for the fireworks-and-chimes holidays.
Kaiser Chiefs prove to be one of the enduring of their batch. They may have incorporated various styles in their music, but their New Wave roots could never be denied, and that is admirable. Trademark is important, and Kaiser Chefs have it. Duck is another proof of this—quirky without being over-the-top; nostalgic but definitely not outdated; instead their music is both classic and modern at the same time. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.