Music Reviews
The Future Is Medieval

Kaiser Chiefs The Future Is Medieval

(B-Unique) Buy it from Insound Rating - 2/10

To truly critique The Future Is Medieval, I’ll have to rely on some inductive argument in an attempt to remove the past six years of context that surround the Kaiser Chiefs. To do so I will have to pray on a little faith on the part of your good self – it should prove a worthwhile exercise.

Imagine a world in which the Kaiser Chiefs and all their predecessors never existed, one in which their acclaimed first record, Employment, was never conceived from the dingy basements of Leeds semis; imagine that Ruby never became a number one single; and that the inglorious success of Off With Their Heads simply never came to pass. Now, with the history dispensed of, imagine a band takes form in the middle of 2010; after a few nods from notable webzines it’s snapped up by the label B-Unique. As summer takes hold the next year and on the back of a steady wave of hype, this band – let's called them Kaizer Chiefs – release their debut record, The Future Is Medieval.

Suddenly, this fledgling band is dead in the water: their take on alt-pop is too reserved, its hooks too vague and its lyrics too disconnected, so the critics and the public are too indifferent. With no back catalogue to fall back on, a money-spinning tour is now off the cards. “The fan base is not yet there, I’m afraid,” the director explains to his little gamble. “We’re going to have to let you go, current market and all.”

And that’s it, the Kaizer Chiefs are lost from the public eye, probably forever. Soon a few of them aren’t sure about this whole band business: they’ve given it a good effort, time to do something else. Three months down the line, the band has split for good.

Here, however, in the real world The Kaiser Chiefs will limp on, but despite The Future Is Medieval, not because of it.

This record is certainly the single worst thing the Kaiser Chiefs have produced. Each of their three prior albums have had their necessary redeeming qualities – and I certainly wouldn’t begrudge them those – but this is alt-pop without the pop, and lacking much of the alt. It is, quite frankly, tedious and utterly un-inspiring, lacking any serious ability to convey the emotive forces which I would hope drove the song writing processes. I could go on, but I won’t; better you discover its few virtues and overwhelming vices and come to an understanding yourself.

Of the vast number of post-punk revivalist outfits that spread up and out of 2004, 2005 and the wreckage of garage rock, this band in particular are the most consistently unsteady and pedestrian band not to have capitulated. The likes of Maxïmo Park and Franz Ferdinand have produced focused and highly impressive follow ups and yet these fellows, who began so brightly with that exceptional first record, are an aging shadow of their former self and prominence.

I’d better address the method of delivery then. It’s all gone a bit Radiohead I suppose, and I should give credit where it is due. There are twenty songs available, which you can reduce to a selection of ten, ordered as you, the consumer, sees fit. You can then bundle this package with your ‘own’ cover art. The whole process is innovative and interesting, however, a clever concept does not make up for The Future Is Medieval's dismal content.

So hopefully the way we began this now demonstrates its worth: remove everything that might bias your opinion of this record, the highs of Employment, the lows of those latter stages of Yours Truly, Angry Mob, and the relative but slightly positive plateau of Off With Their Heads; and then remove their limited but devoted core fan base, and the overwhelming numbers of NME reading naysayers. With all of that context removed, and this album reduced to an entirely insular event, The Future Is Medieval is not a success, or arguably even worth the effort; instead it’s a gloomy failure, the sort that would kill off bands with a lesser history. Pass another ampoule of morphine – let’s make this as painless as possible.