Kaiser Chiefs – The Future is Medieval album review

With a career on its way to the dumps, Leeds band Kaiser Chiefs decide to focus on the very thing that was lacking in the band’s picture… creativity; the perfect remedy to rejuvenate the Chiefs after their three-year hiatus.

Since their popularity has never been established based on innovation, its quite lionhearted that their fourth release, The Future is Medieval, delves into the future of music – a fan complied release. Fans were able to choose 10 of their favorite songs from the 20 posted on their website. Thus, leaving the quality and sequencing of the tracks in the hands of their fans. Side note: is this just a marketing stunt from Kaiser Chiefs, persuading fans to purchase two (“separate”) albums, ultimately paying double the price? Well…just a thought.

Coincidentally enough the indie-pop five-piece give originality a new name while looking to a future music marketing gimmick for their fourth album. Fans were even able to choose their own cover. But is this stunt really beneficial? If hearing short snippets doesn’t seem like the most trustworthy option, I can vouch for the second half of the album….  you’d do anything to keep yourself from being slipping into boredom.

“Saying Something,” and “My Place is Here” are undoubtedly intentional fillers, yet others will fly by unnoticed but not deliberately… On the other side of the coin the Chiefs dupe wiry ideas into polished masterful tracks. If this isn’t enough – even the stand out tracks miss the mark on characteristic Kaiser Chiefs excellence.

However, if an album recalls the Beatles, more directly Lennon – that’s gotta count for something, right? The Future is Medieval, does indeed shine with diversity and innovation. Lennon’s acoustic guitar and charming vocals are brought back to life on the waxen “If You Will Have Me”; a poignant message delivered by a son of divorced parents. Or maybe “When All Is Quiet” filled with euphonies and laboriously played music-hall piano and, the thrill stricken guitar and keyboard on “I Dare You” mixed with the Beatles “Tomorrow Never Knows” drumbeat will strike a chord.

Subject and manner are juxtaposed by the Chiefs on tracks such as the persistent “Little Shocks” about ADHD or some type of total distraction; and the impermanence afflicted “Starts with Nothing” arranged against a boldly energetic cavort instrumentation coated with psychedelic guitar riffs and futuristic clamor.

It’s a nice gimmick that the Kaiser Chiefs have set up for fans. Who doesn’t like to be in control? But was it all about that, or did the Chiefs have countless dilemmas about the sequence and which of the tracks would make the cut? Too much flexibility isn’t a true artistic statement. If they were trying to follow in the footsteps of Radiohead (with explicit releases sequenced by the band themselves, such as In Rainbows and The King of Limbs) – The Future is Medieval falls short. Not surprising that they do not care about the format of the album, they have undoubtedly always been about the singles. As any skeptical person can see, this stunt isn’t about the freedom of choice for fans, it’s quite the opposite – it’s about stealing money from their pockets in hopes to make up for the lack of return from previous failed releases.

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