A seemingly short seven years ago, Kaiser Chiefs were poster boys for the new generation of chart-conquering indie, leaving a legacy of pop music fans who know all the words to ‘I Predict A Riot’ and earning a reputation for spectacular live performances due to the acrobatics of frontman Ricky Wilson. However, since the commercial failure and critical bewilderment over third album Off With Their Heads, the return of the Yorkshire five-piece has not been heralded as an exciting comeback.
Despite an attention-grabbing and genuinely intriguing release method, whereby the listener was invited to choose their favourite ten songs from a choice of twenty on the website and then allowed to design their own cover for the album using a selection of stencils, it is not clear that this has done the album any good. People seem far more interested in the release model than any of the music, and at certain points on this album, this seems like an entirely natural reaction.
The Future Is Medieval is the longest record yet from Kaiser Chiefs, and it really feels like it. Unfortunately, there is far more filler material on this album than can be forgiven. Opening with ‘Little Shocks’, we hear an updated version of their old sound, more restrained and “mature”, if you will. Some of the album’s highlights are in line with the new, ethereal and less shouty sound of Kaiser Chiefs. However, two of the weirdest, most out of place and, frankly, best tracks on this album are ‘Heard It Break’, which sounds like reggae crossed with R’n’B at times, and the ghostly instrumental bonus track ‘Howlaround’.
Despite this evolution, there is still a lot of joy to be had from the more raucous moments on this record, such as ‘Long Way From Celebrating’ and ‘Kinda Girl You Are’ (the only track on the album not previously available through the make-your-own album scheme, due to it not being finished in time).
Unfortunately, tracks like ‘When All Is Quiet’ and ‘Child Of The Jago’ just seem unnecessary and out of place on an album which is already slightly too long. In fact, if the CD release of The Future Is Medieval was trimmed down to just ten songs – as fans were invited to do – then it would be a perfectly good album. As it is, the record just sounds flabby and frustrating.
5 out of 10
Good: There are signs of innovation from a band that are desperately in need of it
Bad: Too long, too much filler