Single Review: Kaiser Chiefs – Parachute

By on Wednesday, 15th June 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Two years ago, indie rock stalwarts Kaiser Chiefs came out swaggering with a new album, and new drummer Vijay Mistry in tow. It was their first without original principal songwriter Nick Hodgson, deciding to leave the band who had made him a star. Naturally, there were big questions being lobbed around the future of the group, left untethered out in the ocean. To the surprise of most everyone, myself included, fifth Kaiser Chiefs album ‘Education, Education, Education & War’ with American Ben Allen as producer gave proof that there was life left in their career yet. (I wrote about ‘Meanwhile Up in Heaven’ on my other site Music in Notes here.) This week, they’ve revealed their newest track and indeed, we see (and hear) the Kaisers in a way we’ve never seen them before.

According to frontman and judge on The Voice Ricky Wilson, there was a concerted effort while writing this new album to return to their early roots. “When we wrote the first record we were very direct, little needed explaining. The songs seemed to speak for themselves and did all the hard work for us. ‘Parachute’ is pretty self-explanatory and a bit of a return to that. ‘Parachute’ is probably the first love song we’ve written since ‘Ruby’.” Interestingly, they’ve chosen to work with producer Brian Higgins (New Order, Girls Aloud, Pet Shop Boys) on the new material, which has led to the development of a surprisingly completely different sound. Wilson says, too, that the topic for discussion changed as well: “When we finished writing the last record we realised that the most important thing to everyone is what’s going on in their lives. Their “personal politics” and that’s what this album is about. If ‘Education, Education, Education & War’ was our protest album, then ‘Stay Together’ is our relationship album.”

If this is an album about relationships, the uber-shiny synth finish of ‘Parachute’ suggests a more obvious, joyful bent that’s far more mainstream pop-orientated than the Kaiser Chiefs sound has ever been before. One major negative to the single: because of the way it’s constructed, you can’t hear the individual players’ contributions, which is what you come to expect from an indie rock band. However, this is partially mitigated by Wilson’s voice, which works well – astonishingly well! – within a pop treatment. In the bridge, he sings in a reserved manner “I don’t mind / it’s not important anymore / I realise / you’re at the core of what I need”. Is this really the same man who brought us the satisfying anarchy of ‘I Predict a Riot’?

Early detractors have cited that Wilson’s time with The Voice has negatively and irreparably affected the band’s direction, but I think that’s too easy of a conclusion to draw. True, the sweetly sung, slightly irritating chorus of “if we’ve only got one parachute, I’d give it to you” isn’t on par with the cheekiness of “what do you want for tea? / I want crisps” of ‘Never Miss a Beat’. However, with the exception of Mistry, dare I say it, Wilson and co. have reached middle age. And the older you get, the less you’re inclined to be singing the same songs you were singing when you were an angry kid, am I right?

In an interview at the NME Awards 2016 in Austin, Texas, back in February, Wilson further explained that “For the last ten years, I thought to write a universal song to appeal to everybody you had to talk about big topics… but we’ve never really written love songs.” If he’s being completely honest about their aspirations for this new release – and I’m inclined to believe him – then I think it will be well worth our while to wait for the full album and see just how good (or not) they are to crafting a popular love song.

Not a requisite purchase for the devoted Kaisers fan by any means, but such an interesting, unexpected curve ball I don’t think anyone saw coming.

7/10

Kaiser Chiefs’ sixth album ‘Stay Together’ will be out on the 7th of October on Fiction Records / Caroline International. Latest single ‘Parachute’ is out now. The band will be hosting a special fan-only show at London Palladium on the 11th of July. For more on Kaiser Chiefs on TGTF, go here.

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

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TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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