Universal Records, 2005
REVIEW BY: Michael R. Smith
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 10/28/2007
In the case of the Kaiser Chiefs, things couldn’t have looked more promising than they did on their priceless debut album, Employment. Produced by a pair of Stephens (Street and Harris), it is only a handful of truly remarkable albums to come out in the last 10 years. The Kaiser Chiefs’ grasp of the pop formula and songcraft is what make them seem like music industry veterans rather than the newcomers they are.
The first half of Employment is especially strong. All the singles are right in line, from the static electricity shock of “Everyday I Love You Less And Less” to the full-on buzzsaw cut “I Predict A Riot,” both of which have hooks aplenty and a healthy dose of drunken English swagger. Not since the Sex Pistols has British punk sounded so fresh and exciting (with tremendous promise, I might add). It is so refreshing to hear an album where the musicians actually sound like they are actually having some fun in the studio. I mean, really, what is the point of getting into music if you don’t enjoy it?
Passion, energy and enthusiasm bleeds from every single corner of this debut album. The boys even strut their stuff on slower songs like “Modern Way,” putting great emphasis on their British accents just for show. Actually, a ballad like “You Can Have It All” would be a perfect fit for any pub in the UK. The same also can be said for “Time Honoured Tradition,” one of the rare drinking tunes where it’s okay to be a little over the top.
An interesting side note is the fact that Madonna’s husband, film director Guy Ritchie, is a huge Kaiser Chiefs fan. At least he was until they turned down his offer to direct one of their music videos. Still, you can just picture him singing along to “Oh My God” in his car or when he’s out drinking with his pals. Another track sure to get the party going is the frenetic “Saturday Night,” although the Chiefs do more yelling than actual singing on that one.
If you hear some Beach Boys-style harmonies thrown in for good measure, you would be right. There is even an homage to that group on “Caroline, Yes,” which is, of course, their own take on the Pet Sounds classic “Caroline No.”
Though the last song “Team Mate” is a little weak, practically every song that comes before it is a winner. I particularly love “Na Na Na Na Naa,” a song where the Chiefs throw all caution to the wind and just go for it. The fact that they all sing in falsetto only adds to the track’s campy flair. It has to be one of the most fun songs to come out this decade so far. Then there’s “What Did I Ever Give You,” a melodic and memorable number mostly for its simplicity and straightforward presentation. Female listeners will probably like “Born To Be A Dancer” best, despite the fact that the chorus is too bombastic than is perhaps necessary at that point of the record.
So there you have it, a party album to rival Licensed To Ill by the Beastie Boys and Dookie by Green Day. Isn’t it interesting that we can “predict a riot” at least once every decade with an album that we can thrash, mosh and slam dance to? Contrary to popular belief, rock and roll is not dead, though we could certainly use more albums like Employment to help in bolstering that assertion.