Released: Oct 20, 2008
Genre: Indie Rock, Post-Punk Revival
Label: Universal, B-Unique
Number Of Tracks: 11
Off with Their Heads is the third album by English rock band Kaiser Chiefs. The first single from the album was "Never Miss a Beat", released two weeks before the album.
Off With Their Heads
UG Team, on november 28, 2008 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The sound on this album is fairly different from their early outings on Employment (their debut album). The focus still seems to be around the indie/punk scene, which is obvious in most tracks, but some points in the album show the band experimenting with various techniques that could have been plucked straight out of the 60's (the keyboards in 'Half the Truth' and 'Tomato in the Rain') and the 80's (just listening to the keyboards on half of the tracks would show what I meant). The keyboards, as I'm sure you'd find out, play the most up-front role on the album. This is most apparent on 'Good Days, Bad Days' and 'You Want History', I think.
On the other hand, away from the styles, the guitar and bass lines are pretty similar to everything else they've released. Simple, catchy riffs are littered all over the place, and not just on the guitar. The two seem to be balanced when it comes to taking the musical front, with the bass having riffs that hook you easily on songs like 'Never Miss a Beat'. The guitar then takes control on others - 'Spanish Metal' and 'Always Happens Like That' (with the piano in tow), for example. The only real criticism about the guitar is the solo in 'Always Happens Like That', which is a little hard on the ears (maybe it's meant to sound that way, I don't know). Since I've covered the rest, the percussion/drums are pretty well played too. The drumming plays a very prominent role in almost all of the songs, particularly on 'Addicted to Drugs' etc.
One of the best tracks for the sound is the final track 'Remember You're a Girl', which sounds heavily John Lennon/The Beatles influenced, as I'm sure many will agree. It's a little uncertain as to whether some fans will be overjoyed about the sound of some of the tracks on here, but on the whole, it's a nice listen. // 8
Lyrics: As with a lot of 'Chief's songs, the lyrics aren't entirely inspiring or hard-hitting ('What did you learn today? I learnt nothing. What did you do today? I did nothing.' - you get the picture), though they do fit the requirements of the music given. The high points of the vocals come mainly in the melodies, harmonies and backing vocals. A lot of the melodies show signs of influences from the new-romantics era, where other tracks also show 70's punk methods.
The backing vocals and harmonies, mainly by drummer Nick Hodgson, are cleverly harmonised. Even when not harmonising, they fit the songs very appropriately - the backing vocals in 'You Want History' fit very well, though he doesn't sing any legible words for the most of it. Guest vocalists on the album add a nice edge to it too, with Lily Allen (Always Happens Like That) and Sway (Half the Truth) making appearances. // 7
Overall Impression: This album won't live up to the success of the previous outings 'Employment' and 'Yours Truly, Angry Mob', that's a given. Some of the songs don't sound as full as their previous work. The playing and singing etc. is pretty good, and the production (by now-legendary Amy Winehouse producer, Mark Ronson) is pretty flawless. Overall, it's worth a listen if you're into the band, but it might not interest some listeners as much. // 7
Off With Their Heads
wacawaca, on april 28, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: After working with Lily Allen to record a cover of Oh My God (a track from the Kaiser Chiefs first album Employment) Mark Ronson was enlisted to produce the latest Kaiser Chiefs album Off With Their Heads. Apart from some instrumentation on Like It Too Much and Lily Allen's barely audible backing vocals on Always Happens Like That, Ronson's focus seems to be to preserve the band's sound and maintain a focus on Wilson's lyrics. Nowhere is this more obvious than on first single Never Miss A Beat where Wilson's lyrics rally against anti-intellectualism, heard in the refrain, It's cool to know nothing above which the guitars screech and chime. But apart from a few highlights including anthem Like It Too Much and cheeky Addicted To Drugs this album is nothing new. There are some inspired moments of song writing, where Wilson's lyrics and the band's creative energy combine, and the band's infectious energy is impossible to resist. However these moments are too few and far between, and are more often than not, offset by some uninspired moments. Nowhere is this better exemplified than in Half The Truth which features an inspired refrain and a catchy synth-hook, but is then hijacked for a spoken-word verse by Sway DaSofo. This song exemplifies all that is good and bad about this album. Yes there are times when this album impresses, but there are equally times when it is disappointing. // 6
Lyrics: Wilson's lyrics, as always, deal with various ideas. Generally one would say the lyrics sit in the "social commentary" box. Lead single "Never Miss A Beat" rails against anti-intellectualism and "Addicted To Drugs" is a cheeky shot at celebrity-status. Unfortunately there are times when the lyrics fall embarrassingly short, such as the confusing "Tomato In The Rain", the lukewarm "Good Days Bad Days" and the positively basic "Remember You're A Girl".
Every now and then, Wilson shows streaks of brilliance; and this is generally present on the album. However, one can't help but feel cheated; especially when he is able to produce such fantastic lyrics, and then lyrics that are average at best. // 6
Overall Impression: Mark Ronson's influence seems to have been periphery at best. Enlisting Lilly Allen to sing backing vocals and Bond composer David Arnold to arrange strings are hardly inspired moves. One wonders whether perhaps a producer needs to temper the band's energy and spirit to create a more focussed and consistent record; but perhaps to do this, risks the high-octane sound that the Kaiser Chiefs are renowned for. It seems that no one least of all themselves have sorted out the formula for the Kaiser Chiefs. When someone finally does, please tell me, because this band may be unstoppable.
Key Tracks: Never Miss A Beat, Like It Too Much, Addicted To Drugs // 7