Album Review: Kaiser Chiefs - 'The Future Is Medieval'

Forget all the ‘industry-saving’ fuss, this fourth album is actually a sort of return to form, you know

Danny North/NME
Photo: Danny North/NME
If you’re going to hawk a gimmick, you better have some actual goods in the back of your van. Sure, you can strut around with fiery tits and gowns of pancetta, but the songs better be bangers or the baying mob will gleefully tear your meaty raiments to shreds.

Kaiser Chiefs haven’t half made a rod for their own backs with their wacky choose-your-own-adventure album shenanigans (coupled with the nasty taste left by the decision to release an ‘official’ version, complete with a new track that wasn’t among the 20 that fans could originally choose from).

You get the feeling that if you weren’t distracted by the hoopla of ‘but what if they’d put this track on? Or had them in this order?’, the surprise of Kaiser Chiefs coming back with a decent album after the horrorshow of the last one would’ve been much more effective. The heavy, clanking Hammer Horror groove of ‘Little Shocks’, the fat-bassed Gary Numan/‘Fame’-era Bowie pastiche of ‘Things Change’, and the ‘where the shit did that come from?’ massive Who-chasing chorus of ‘Long Way From Celebrating’: it’s stuff that reminds us why we bothered with Kaisers in the first place.

And yeah, those are in the first three tracks and it goes a bit passable after that, with the likes of the rather flat and foggy ‘Man On Mars’ and the dull piano plod of ‘Coming Up For Air’, but, on balance, it’s a solid effort that deserves undistracted attention. Nick Hodgson has said that the album’s odd gestation ‘re-energised’ the band. If a gimmick is the price we pay for a Kaiser Chiefs that sound like they’ve had a stern face-dunking since the days of ‘Off With Their Heads’, then I guess we’ll buy that pup, maybe even twice.

Emily Mackay

Order a copy of 'The Future Is Medieval' from Amazon

Tony Visconti refutes Kaiser Chiefs' claims that they rejected David Bowie's lyrics

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