November 21, 2016 Kaiser Chiefs – Stay Together (Album Review)
Formed in 2003, in West Yorkshire, England, Kaiser Chiefs currently consists of Ricky Wilson (lead vocals), Andrew White (guitar), Simon Rix (bass), Nick Baines (keyboards, synthesizers), and Vijay Mistry (drums, percussion). To date, the band has released six studio albums, from 2005’s generally frenetic and upbeat Employment to 2016’s change of style, the Synthpop-oriented Stay Together.
Released on October 7, 2016, via their own label, Stay Together is Kaiser Chiefs’ sixth overall offering. Beginning with the relaxed drawl of the glittery Disco title track, it recalls similar inflections by Damon Albarn when the Britpop luminary is being a Gorillaz rather than a Blur. Uplifting the mood immediately is the dance floor-ready and anthem-worthy “Hole in My Soul,” whose infectious rhythm, glittery melodies, and catchy chorus will fit on a playlist that includes The Farm’s “Altogether Now,” Elkland’s “Put Your Hand Over Mine,” and Men Without Hats’ “Head Above Water.” In the ensuing “Parachute,” Kaiser Chiefs take their listeners to an even more Pop direction; Tegan and Sara’s similar, recent Pop excursion may come to mind, for instance, “Closer;” or even a whiff of Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory.” Then there is the Reggae sensibility of “Good Clean Fun” and the Stan Ridgway big-heat throwback “Why Do You Do It To Me?”
“Indoor Firework” and “Press Rewind” are similarly styled Disco-influenced tracks, made even more memorable with their respective Chic-inspired, funky guitar hooks. “Happen in a Heartbeat” follows the same Synthpop path, this time even echoing bits and traces of the likes of Bronski Beat (“Smalltown Boy”), Electronic-oriented New Order (“Krafty”), and Pet Shop Boys (“West End Girls”). The falsetto-flavored Dance Pop “High Society” comes across like something from The Other Two, particularly “Movin’ On.” The penultimate “Sunday Morning” is a standout track, which features a snappy, double-time rhythm, Moog-sounding melody, slightly bluesy guitar slide, and fifty colors of the Rockabilly moon. Finally, Stay Together finishes with the very New Wave-sounding, midtempo “Still Waiting,” whose low-register and high-pitched vocal interplay perfectly wraps up Kaiser Chiefs’ new brand of beautiful beast.
Kaiser Chiefs’ return-to-original form occurred already in their 2014’s Education, Education, Education & War. The band’s latest work, on the other hand, is a delightful adventure to an equally engaging sonic realm, yet remains within familiar grounds. Stay Together is a testament of how Kaiser Chiefs could remain rooted in their chosen style but, at the same time, display the ability to broaden their canvas of music and paint it with different yet similar tones and hues of the same colors. CrypticRock gives this album 4 out of 5 stars.