Kaiser deriders – statistically you’re more likely to be one than ginger or over six feet tall – traditionally point to the band’s shameless success-grasping as the basis of their scorn. They note that their desire to sell as many albums as Blur is more fervent than their (considerable) yearning to emulate their legacy. It’s a valid, if old, criticism. Kaiser Chiefs’ pre-signing tactic of ensuring that every song played for three-men-and-a-dog audiences contained record contract-typing earworms is still here, but now serves to cement their position in the top echelon of Big British Bands.
‘Off With Their Heads’, rather than being a brave leap forward after surviving the second album spike-trap with the solid ‘Yours Truly, Angry Mob’, is a purposeful push on the accelerator with zero desire to change lanes. It’s not an album to be remembered. But it does contain choruses that are impossible not to. Opener ‘Spanish Metal’ recalls the spikier end of The Coral’s early delvings, but it’s lead single ‘Never Miss A Beat’ that first harpoons the ear. Ricky Wilson derides broken Britain with one wagging finger (“What did you do today?/I did nothing”) while leading a fist-pump with the other over skewering Britpop guitar. It’d be flawless if not for one line: the Jamie’s School Dinners-referencing “What do you want for tea?/I want crisps”, that induced more guffaws across Britain than the first series of The Office.
‘Never…’ survives, but ‘Addicted To Drugs’ is that most frustrating of things – an ace stompalong rendered unlistenable by woeful lyrics, Wilson’s ‘twist’ on Robert Palmer causing cringes despite it helming the most winning hook on the album. Speaking of cringe, Lily Allen is unrecognisable on the Grange Hill-esque ‘Always Happens Like That’, not because she’s ditched her nonchalant smarm for Beyoncé-like warblings, but because producer Mark Ronson has mixed her dormouse-low. Better is the jittery, anthemic ‘Like It Too Much’ and the Nick Hodgson-sung, Lennon-aping closer ‘Remember You’re A Girl’ – certainly more so than the Boney M-barrassing keyboard hops of ‘Good Days Bad Days’, which may be half-knowingly cheesy but still go down like a fistful of Stilton. Half-knowing, half-full of anthems and lyrically halfway to hell, ‘Off With Their Heads’ is musically halfway there. Kaisers have barely missed a beat on the highway to massive-dom, but they’re hardly raising our heart rates.