Kaiser Chiefs predicted a riot on their 2005 debut, but the perky Englishmen only had enough steam to carry the album halfway to brilliance. Now, with a heightened sense of feistiness and discontent — plus consistently improved songwriting — album No. 2 feels more substantial, especially in its most dissatisfied moments. With the antagonizing grin hinted at in its title, Yours Truly, Angry Mob marches through its baker’s dozen of punk-tinged pop songs with a prickly sense of purpose.
The Chiefs still understand immediate gratification, though. Emphatically Franz Ferdinand-like leadoff track “Ruby” drops into the over-the-top sing-along “The Angry Mob,” and together they announce the album’s alluring mood: pissed-off exuberance. The Buzzcocks-biting “Everything Is Average Nowadays,” and its playfully disgruntled sneer at complacency, would’ve made a terrific album-opening manifesto; instead, it jump-starts the album’s back half and sets up a pretty piano ballad and the slinky “My Kind of Guy.”
Clearly, the band has learned that Ricky Wilson and Nick Hodgson’s clever lyrics (think Blur, Pulp, the occasional Morrissey sprinkle) need tight, bright packages. And each song — from a blistering look at public-housing boredom to a semiridiculous list of things that Wilson wishes he’d invented — gets its own well-crafted arrangement. With such sharp detail, Kaiser Chiefs have elevated themselves from a singles band to a group that’s capable of both having a laugh and making a focused statement about life’s less gleeful side.
Now Hear This: Kaiser Chiefs – “Ruby” DOWNLOAD MP3
Now Watch This: A blast from the past, with Kaiser Chiefs performing “I Predict a Riot” from Employment in the Spin offices, April 2005.