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Kaiser Chiefs’ “Start the Revolution Without Me” (Sort Of) Lives Up to Its Name

Brit indie-rock band Kaiser Chiefs, perhaps best known for their hit “Ruby” from the album Yours Truly, Angry Mob (2007), recently released their latest effort Start the Revolution Without Me amid much fanfare and buzz—and to highly mixed reviews. My first impression of the record is that the record’s name is hauntingly suited to it. In fact, far from being revolutionary, the songs on Start the Revolution basically sound like a less intense recycling of their earlier work.

Why the fanfare? Well, that’s probably the most interesting part of the album. Start the Revolution Without Me is essentially a scaled-back version of the 20-track UK release The Future is Medieval (not marketed in the US), in which fans were given the opportunity to select the tracks and the playlist order for the US version. Thus, Start the Revolution is a bit of an interactive experiment in which fans basically got to choose their faves from The Future Is Medieval, in order to help the band put their best foot forward for the Americans.

So in a twisted sort of way, I suppose Kaiser Chiefs can blame their fans for this one.

So the news isn’t all bad; if you’re into Brit-rock, you could certainly do worse than Kaiser Chiefs, who have successfully blended punk and new wave elements into a more crowd-accessible sound. The tunes on this record are well-produced and fairly pleasant to listen to, although occasionally the lyrics take a dive. A glaring example is “Heard It Break”: “It feels like I broke my heart again / But it’s just a sprain / I could have sworn that I heard it snap / But they tell me it’s just a sprain / It’s been broke before, but this hurts some more.” Whatha?… This lyric sounds like it could have come from the songwriting team in the movie Ishtar. Just saying.

Perhaps if this were the Kaiser Chiefs’ debut record, it would have left a better impression. It’s just that when you hold Start the Revolution up to their earlier work, it doesn’t stand up all that well—and all the buildup preceded this release has only added to the disappointment, unfortunately. Existing fans of Kaiser Chiefs will probably buy it and like it (especially since they helped make it, sort of), and fans of Brit-pop in general will probably add it to their collection. Just don’t expect it to start any revolutions. Apparently these guys are serious about sitting this one out.

ALBUM RATING: 2.5 stars (out of five)


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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Tim Ferrar's interest in pop and rock started as a child, listening to Top-40 radio for hours on end while playing air guitar in his bedroom. Eventually air guitar led to electric guitar, and Tim began playing in bands and writing his own songs. With an admitted weakness for "a great hook or a great guitar riff," Tim's musical tastes are broad and varied, ranging from Michael Jackson and Lady Gaga on the pop side to Bon Jovi and Foo Fighters on the rock side- making him the ideal guy to cover our Rock and Pop categories. By day, Tim is a mild-mannered accountant in Chicago. By night, he rocks out on electric guitar in a cover band in various clubs around town- much to the surprise of some of his clients.

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