Off with Their Heads

Off with Their Heads

3.0 3
by Kaiser Chiefs
     
 

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Though "Ruby" was one of the Kaiser Chiefs' biggest hits, it and the rest of Yours Truly, Angry Mob were disappointing, trading Employment's ambitious spark for workmanlike consistency. It seemed like that could be the fate of the rest of the band's output until Lily Allen's funky pop cover of "Oh My God" appeared on MarkSee more details below

Overview

Though "Ruby" was one of the Kaiser Chiefs' biggest hits, it and the rest of Yours Truly, Angry Mob were disappointing, trading Employment's ambitious spark for workmanlike consistency. It seemed like that could be the fate of the rest of the band's output until Lily Allen's funky pop cover of "Oh My God" appeared on Mark Ronson's album Version, which ultimately led to Ronson working on the Kaisers' third album. The golden touch Ronson had as a producer for artists like Allen and Amy Winehouse is also evident throughout Off with Their Heads: he imbues the band's spiky Brit-rock with his pop and dance music flair, throwing together strings, synths, live and programmed drums, exotic percussion and lots of guitars in a new wave-y
ave-y mix that nods to bands like Klaxons and Late of the Pier. The cheeky "Addicted to Drugs" gets an extra kick from Ronson's a go-go bells, giving the song a kinetic beat even though the rest of the track is straight-ahead guitar pop, while "You Want History"'s brisk hi-hats and surging synths flirt with the dancefloor. Ronson also brings in Allen as a guest vocalist for the excellent, slightly paranoid pop of "Always Happens Like That" and rapper Sway on "Half the Truth," who gives the song's angry young man rant against doublespeak a sharper edge. Of course, all the creative production and guest stars Ronson offers wouldn't mean anything if the Kaiser Chiefs' songwriting wasn't focused, but Off with Their Heads delivers on this front too. The band rails against stupidity and conformity like they did on Yours Truly, Angry Mob, but this time they know that while it's smart to be witty, it's even smarter to be insidiously catchy. The band's commentary is fused to some of their most pointed hooks: "Never Miss a Beat" rails against how "it's cool to know nothing" to a fittingly relentless rhythm. "Like It Too Much" touches on the Kaisers' latent XTC fetish -- words like "You are descended from animals/And you are constructed of chemicals" could have flowed from Andy Partridge's pen, and the song's lumbering stomp only heightens the similarity. Elsewhere, "Can't Say What I Mean" is wittily tongue-tied and "Good Days and Bad Days" manages the impressive feat of being happy-go-lucky with sounding complacent; more importantly, they show that the Kaiser Chiefs remember the playful spirit of British rock that a lot of traditionalist U.K. bands forget. A couple of songs lack the urgency of the album's best moments (though "Tomato in the Rain" boasts the great lyric "A policeman on the take/Weighted down in a lake" and "Remember You're a Girl" has a naggingly deja vu-inspiring melody), letting Off with Their Heads fall just short of greatness. Still, this is easily some of the Kaisers' finest -- and most consistent -- music.

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Editorial Reviews

Entertainment Weekly - Leah Greenblatt
Co-producer Mark Ronson corrals the band's camp-tastic pomp and working-class quirk into three-minute bangers that fly by in a rush of Jam-y guitars, stomping percussion, and pogo-worthy choruses. [B+]

Product Details

Release Date:
10/28/2008
Label:
Motown
UPC:
0602517847132
catalogNumber:
001210602

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Tracks

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Album Credits

Performance Credits

Kaiser Chiefs   Primary Artist
Tony Lewis   Cello,Celli
Peter G. Hanson   Violin
Garfield Jackson   Viola
Paul Kegg   Cello,Celli
Dave Lloyd   Djembe
Andrew Parker   Viola
Ian Humphries   Violin
Deborah Widdup   Violin
Sway   Vocals,Guest Appearance
Sarah Jones   Background Vocals
Mark Ronson   Agogo,Agogo Bell
Helen Paterson   Violin
Lily Allen   Vocals,Background Vocals,Guest Appearance
Thomas Bowes   Violin
Lou Hayter   Background Vocals
Anne Marie Chirema   Background Vocals
Tom Pigott-Smith   Violin
Ralph de Souza   Violin
Jonathan Evans-Jones   Violin
Rose Warren-Green   Violin
Jonathan Williams   Cello,Celli
Peter Hanson   Violin
Dave Guy   Trumpet
Jon Thorne   Viola
Steve Morris   Violin

Technical Credits

David Arnold   Arranger,String Arrangements
Mark Ronson   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production
Eliot James   Producer,Engineer,Audio Production

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