Even when feeling unhappy with themselves, most of us don’t go full makeover. But pop’s tensions are different though, such that complete reinvention on demand seems to come as part of its rules, even if the audience is never consulted.
2014’s Education, Education, Education and War was very recognisably a Kaiser Chiefs album, hummable and relatable and if it was a bit serious, then we knew at the time that nothing really bad in the future was ever going to happen. On its successor Stay Together though the evidence wasn’t quite so clear, a half change in direction which in hindsight felt much more radical than it actually was.
Duck has been three years in the making since. During this period the quintet had to write material that answered questions and vice-versa: a new decade was on the way, one which they knew needed them in it as much as the previous two.
There are fewer better ways to answer questions – any questions – than on it’s opener People Know How To Love One Another, a show of good faith in the world wrapped up in all the band’s finer qualities, from Ricky Wilson’s master of ceremonies chutzpah to a chorus which could stop a runaway train. Hits we know however were never really a problem, but gloriously rather than bow to the false pressure of sequencing or making shifts in mood, the all killer newness just keeps on coming, from Golden Oldies nudge-wink procreation vibe to the throbbing indie disco of Record Collection.
Even with a comeback such as this, the champagne is still on ice until Lucky Shirt, a heady eighties rock out which some might see as out of character – and is one of the group’s best moments in more than a decade. Faced with changing everything, the Kaiser Chiefs instead thought “What would real people do?”. Duck is the sparkling, brave and triumphant result.
You can read the full review (Featuring a special guest appearance the Yorkshire Evening Post’s former Leeds United reporter Phil Hay) here.