Did Kaiser Chiefs peak too early? When the band stormed American modern-rock charts in 2005 with the song "I Predict A Riot," it sounded like a step up from fellow UK hitmakers Franz Ferdinand and The Zutons, with a pub-rock spine more likely to hold up over time. And though Kaiser Chiefs' debut album, Employment, was pretty spotty, it contained multiple flashes of brightness, and a commitment to eclecticism that—two years ago, at least—signaled the arrival of a group capable of heading in just about any direction.
But in the time it's taken Kaiser Chiefs to record the follow-up Yours Truly, Angry Mob, the likes of Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks, and Razorlight have become the new UK rock sensations, on the strength of albums every bit as pubby and punky as "I Predict A Riot." On Yours Truly, Angry Mob, rather than outpacing those acts by forging into new territory, Kaiser Chiefs scramble to reclaim ground already won, sticking with lazily hooky songs sporting overcranked arrangements. The result? Charmless fare like the bombastic UK hit single "Ruby," and loutish lad-rock like "Thank You Very Much" and "My Kind Of Guy," which sound simultaneously pushy and forgettable.
The album contains one major exception: "Everything Is Average Nowadays," a buzzy power-pop track with a catchy sing-along chorus and a set of lyrics that replace "I Predict A Riot"'s youthful fire with the jaded indifference of encroaching middle age. In the context of an exceedingly slack record, "Everything Is Average Nowadays" sounds like self-condemnation, and as such, it may be the most charged, personal song Kaiser Chiefs have yet recorded.