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Published On: Wed, Apr 30th, 2014

Kaiser Chiefs: Education, Education, Education & War

kcKaiser Chiefs
Education, Education, Education & War
(ATO Records)

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There is something surreal about a judge from The Voice UK singing about the struggles of the working class. Education, Education, Education & War is Kaiser Chiefs’ first album without former drummer/songwriter Nick Hodgson, and it shows. The current incarnation is a decent cover band version of its former self, but Education feels less cohesive and sincere than its predecessors.

There’s certainly nothing specific wrong with Education. The songs taken individually are pleasant enough. The post-punk, energetic “The Factory Gates” matches well with the later, anti-war track “Cannons,” which oddly features a poem recited by the wonderful actor Bill Nighy. “Meanwhile Up in Heaven” has an intriguing, Cure-influenced vibe, while the closing track, “Roses,” is surprisingly sincere to the point that lead singer Ricky Wilson hardly seems to be concerned with staying in tune. The highlight for me is “Misery Company,” which features a cackle in the chorus that’s so creepy, it’s endearing. You don’t get that with most pop.

As an album, however, something just doesn’t work about Education. The album wants to be populist and leftist when it’s political, but the lyrics just don’t dig deeply enough or have the engaging elements of the band’s previous commentary tracks, such as “The Angry Mob.” The different styles of pop and rock that populate the songs don’t mesh together back to back. A few extra individuals have co-writer credits on the songs here, and the result is the old cliché of too many chefs in the kitchen. The post-Hodgson Kaiser Chiefs haven’t quite worked out what they want to be yet, and it’s a shame. If they strip back, try less, and have fun again, the results would shine rather than feeling like the old trope of English bands singing about world wars.

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Kaiser Chiefs: Education, Education, Education & War