Finding 'Employment' With the Kaiser Chiefs

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A new band from England is getting the kind of attention that signals the start of something big. The group is called the Kaiser Chiefs, and reviewer Meredith Ochs takes a listen to an impressive first record called Employment.


The Kaiser Chiefs are a quintet from Leeds, England, and the group recently released a debut album titled "Employment." The rock band is winning the kind of praise that often leads to worldwide recognition. The group made Rolling Stone magazine's Hot List earlier this year. And the venerable British music publication New Musical Express gave them a coveted Radar Award. But do the Kaiser Chiefs live up to the hype? Meredith Ochs has this review.

MEREDITH OCHS reporting:

Oh, to be a young British band like the Kaiser Chiefs, to be filled with cheeky attitude, blessed with excellent fashion sense and unconcerned that anyone might think your music is derivative. The Kaiser Chiefs started out copying hip American groups like The Strokes from New York City and Detroit's White Stripes. Then the band figured out that they really didn't know anything about New York City or Detroit. When the Kaiser Chiefs turned their attention toward their own back yard, they started making better music, but you can still hear a little garage rock revivalism in the menacing guitar rift that hovers over their first single.

(Soundbite of song "I Predict A Riot")

KAISER CHIEFS: (Singing) Oh, watching the people get Larry. It's not very pretty on tele. Walking through town is quite scary and not very sensible either. A friend of a friend, he got beaten. He looked the wrong way at a policeman who never happened to greet him. I know the ...(unintelligible). La, la, la, la, la, la. Ah-ah-ah-ah-ah. La, la, la, la, la, la, la. (Unintelligible).

OCHS: This album by the Kaiser Chiefs is filled with tightly torqued guitar chords, chirpy electronic keyboards borrowed from '80s new wave, and pogo-inducing drumbeats. In case you failed punk rock 101, pogoing is a dance where you jump straight up and down. But if the band causes you to pogo, make sure you don't miss hearing the way singer Ricky Wilson toys with his lyrics. Wilson's phrasing is ear-catching, the way he syncs up his words with the band's rhythm section. And the lyrics themselves are startlingly clever.

(Soundbite of song "Every Day I love You Less And Less")

KAISER CHIEFS: (Singing) Every day I love you less and less. It's clear to see that you've become obsessed. I guess you'll get this message through the press that every day, I love you less and less. And every day, I love you less and less, I've got to get this feeling off my chest. (Unintelligible) for some rest since every day I love you less and less and less and less. I know I feel it in my bones. I'm sick and tired of staying in control. Oh, yes, I feel ...(unintelligible) a wheel. I got to know that nothing much is real. Oh, yes, I'm stressed. I'm sorry, I digress. Impressed, you dress (unintelligible). Oh, and my parents love me.

OCHS: It seems like England cranks out bands every few months that are supposed to be the next big thing, and some of them are, for about five minutes. It would be easy to put the Kaiser Chiefs in this category, mainly because they sound like a hundred bands you've heard before. But their debut CD shows a lot of promise. On songs like this one, the band reveals a keen sense of melody and a knack for buoyant arrangements. It makes me think that the Kaiser Chiefs possess more than just flash and style, and I can't wait to hear their second disc, just to be sure.

(Soundbite of music)

BLOCK: The CD by the Kaiser Chiefs is called "Employment." Our reviewer is Meredith Ochs.

(Soundbite of music)

MICHELE NORRIS (Host): You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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