Monday, August 01, 2011

Little Shocks

Song: Little Shocks
Artist: Kaiser Chiefs
Album: The Future is Medieval

Back in 2005 when I first heard "I Predict a Riot" from the Kaiser Chief's debut album "Employment," I got the feeling that it was the start of something big.  The year prior had given us the amazing Franz Ferdinand debut album and it seemed dance-rock was going to have quite the resurgence.  "Employment" was pretty stellar, with a couple instant classics thrown in there.  So it came with a bit of disappointment to me that their follow up albums, save for a couple tracks here and there, didn't seem to have the same spark.

After 2008's "Off With their Heads," the band took an extended hiatus before recording their fourth album, "The Future is Medieval."  I got an early download of the album in early June, listened a couple times and just thought it was a way-too-long mess.  But I wasn't really paying attention (as the UK marketing of the album didn't hit me here in the States at all) and didn't realize that the songs were actually in alphabetical order...

Turns out the band came up with a fan-assist concept for the album; they recorded twenty tracks, put one-minute samples on their website, and asked fans to build their best ten-track version of the album, and share their version on the website for purchase.  If someone bought your mix of the album, you got a one pound kick-back.  So the twenty-track sprawling mess was never intended as the full album, and the Chief's ended up releasing a physical version of the album with thirteen tracks, one of which, "Kinda Girl You Are" being brand new as they hadn't finished it in time for the digital promotion.

I think the concept is pretty brilliant, and takes what music fans have been doing since the dawn of the digital music album anyhow, picking favorite tracks and making their own version they like.  Now, the art purists and possibly-pretentious "serious" songwriters out there might scoff at this... as an album can/should be considered one streamlined artistic statement.  But is giving the people what they want not a new for of art?  (discuss.)

Regardless of this concept, I'm still trying to sort through all of "The Future is Medieval."  I'm loving opening track and party-starter "Little Shocks," and if it doesn't have quite the bite of previous singles "Riot," "Oh My God," or "Never Miss a Beat," it does sound unequivocally Kaiser Chiefs.  Which in this day and age of copycat sounds and been-there-hasn't-this-been-done-before biting... it seems revolutionary.  It's nice to hear a band with its own thing going on.

The album seems to be a little more electronic than they've gone before, and yet... it's not what you first pick up on when listening.  If that makes any sense.  I'm still listening, and now just taking things in the order the band has suggested.  It's funny how much a difference sequencing (and editing) can do.  What do you think of this album/concept?


Little Shocks
Things Change
Starts With Nothing

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