“People keep on saying the songs that they’ve been playing will never ever change the world,” sings Ricky Wilson on the feel-good romp of ‘Duck’ single ‘People Know How To Love One Another’. “There’s boots on the ground and every single sound is like a bomb that will never explode”. Maybe he’s looking back on the years since the early ‘00s indie revolution, with the fires of the riot they once predicted now largely extinguished. Still, Kaiser Chiefs have fought to keep their own little trench.
Where their 2004 debut ‘Employment’ took them from indie darlings to six-times Platinum arena-botherers, the band’s last effort ‘Stay Together’ (2017) saw them try to worm their in via a different route with some very slick and polished electro-pop. But this time around, they just seem quite casually confident.
With all its blustery horns, Beatles melodies and Magic FM ‘80s fist-clench power-balladry, opener ‘People Know How To Love One Another’ seems to take Kaisers back to their early days of an everyman anthem, but much more world-wise and assured. ‘Golden Oldie’ continues that same cocky swagger and with the comforting familiarity that its name suggests before ‘Wait’ brings in a little touch of a Northern Soul . A surprising departure comes on the twitching Human League-esque dark-synth pop of ‘Record Collector’, while there’s a meander between the polished and the crazed on ‘The Only Ones’ that sounds like The Killers battling with The Cribs.
‘Duck’ is far from inventive, but there’s fun to be had. With the glitterball waltz of ‘Target Market’ and on the wilfully obnoxious ‘Northern Holiday’, Kaisers remain as dedicated as ever to their mission to serve you an earworm. Closer ‘Kurt V Frasier (The Battle For Seattle)’, namechecks Kurt Cobain and Frasier Crane as Wilson ends the record with a wistful and youthful optimism. And why not? Few of their ‘00s peers have survived like this and can still pack out an arena.
They’re not Arctic Monkeys and unlikely to make a mind-blowing concept record about living on the moon. They won’t follow in The Killers’ footsteps and headline Glastonbury. But while Kaisers have never changed the world, they’re certainly going to remain very much a part of it.