Americans might recall British post-punk band Kaiser Chiefs vaguely as a band that had a couple of singles featured on Guitar Hero. Of course, Kaiser Chiefs’ UK fanbase would scoff at the thought—the Leeds-based band was shortlisted for the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2005 for their first studio album, Employment, and their single “Ruby” topped the British charts two years later. Yet in spite of their home-turf accolades and accomplishments, the Kaiser Chiefs hype never swept the U.S.
Unfortunately, the release of Kaiser Chiefs’ latest album, Education, Education, Education & War, probably won’t do the trick for American charts. Though it went number one in the UK, in comparison with past albums Employment and Yours Truly, Angry Mob, Education, Education, Education & War just doesn’t do enough to excite the listener. The album just feels like one long song, each of the 10 tracks blending into each other for the most part.
That’s not to say the album doesn’t have bright moments here and there. Weak lead single “Coming Home” is redeemed by “Misery Company,” a harder, rawer track reminiscent of “I Predict A Riot,” but even “Misery Company” feels more forced than catchy with its chorus of “ha’s.” “My Life” has some pretty good pseudo-existential lyrics and guitar riffs, but the song’s length extends beyond five minutes and won’t hold anybody’s attention for that long. “Bows & Arrows” is the album’s highlight, having an excellent hook and call-to-arms message that would have resonated with Americans. It’s a shame the band only released it as a single in France; it deserves more attention than it is given on the album.
Education, Education, Education & War is a nice effort by Kaiser Chiefs, but isn’t very memorable. The band sounds like they’re in a lull, something their upcoming Euro-tour might remedy. However, if Kaiser Chiefs want to attract more American fans, they’re going to have to try a lot harder in the recording studio to figure out what makes us tick and play more than a handful of U.S. dates.
In A Word: Passable