Originally Released February 26th 2007. Review originally published April 3rd, 2007.
Employment, three millions copies sold and counting, wasn’t as much a debut album as a full blown social phenomenon; whilst stupefyingly dull acts like Coldplay and Snow Patrol shift units by the gazillion to non music fans with their ultra bland noughties MOR, The Chiefs first long player was by comparison an unlikely chart topper, reaching out to disaffected Libs mourners but also finding itself soundtracking the chatter of new town pubs. A derivative mix of equal parts pubescent Blur and late era Madness, it was also irritatingly an inspiration to countless turgid home counties chancers in their quest for sixth form immortality. It certainly wasn’t a success on songwriting merit; outside of the shanty rock of Oh My God and the rabble prodding I Predict a Riot, at it’s weakest (As on the hapless Team Mate) there was a distinct impression of a mid-contract rarities and B-Sides compilation happening.
Two years on and that lot from down the M1 have stolen their crown, the insouciant streak of optimism that ran through Employment has dissipated under the yoke of war and the gauntlet has been not so much thrown down as hurled back up the motorway like a bottle of WKD. Worry not though: Yours Truly…is as much of an improvement as it had to be, both musically and spiritually and comes equipped with a healthy dose of much-needed closing time realism, although this is still music for kids from the avenues rather than the estates. Opener Ruby is a statement of their intent; tub thumping energy and chugging terrace harmonisation demonstrating that Ricky Wilson and co are taking no prisoners in the quest to regain their status as middle England’s favourite band. Tellingly, there’s a reassuring lack of filler and this time round the songs are actually about stuff; the title track being a hook laden chuff off to the tabloid press, whilst the glam skimming Highroyds is a paean to a mental hossie now replaced by a soulless new “executive community”. Much to probably their surprise they even successfully navigate a ballad this time round on Love’s Not A Competition (But I’m Winning) and there’s little doubt that Everything Is Average Nowadays will be inescapable this summer on the forecourts of Kwik Fits and inside Cartridge Worlds across the country. There’s still enough evidence to please the snooty keep it real crew in support of their no talent mantra – the leaden My Kind of Guy and the hopeless Nick Hodgson sung Boxing Champ – but Yours Truly..is a proper record, a single cohesive body of work, proud of it’s roots and making no apologies for it’s unabashed populism.
Leeds United fans the Maverick Whites will tell you about a sometime compatriot of theirs known only as “Old Fashioned”, a man from a bygone era trapped in modern times, who umpires cricket matches in his spare time, looks like a dishevelled Magnus Pike and sounds like Terry Thomas. Sporadically at away games in his native London he’ll climb aboard the coach en route and rabidly encouraged by the pixellated throng he’ll grab the tour guide’s mic and fire up renditions of between the wars standards like The English Are Best in a trembling baritone before disappearing to an unspecified church fete. He’ll like this record. In celebrity choked Britain, the Chiefs anti image image and hard work ethic are a welcome slap for both the get rich quick talent show crowd and cooler than you indie wasters alike.