The Future Is Medieval CD
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Fourth studio album by the British rock group. Promotion for the album was unusual because the band gave fans the chance to create their own ten-track version of the album from a selection of 20 songs, as well as being able to customise their own artwork.
Leeds’ Kaiser Chiefs aren’t a band immediately associated with innovation – their perky indie-pop has livened up many a festival with a series of "nah-nah-nah-nah-nah"-style nonsense, but their popularity has never been founded upon originality. But the five-piece have looked to a potential future for music distribution for their fourth album, allowing fans to compile their own version of The Future Is Medieval from their official website. What this means is that one buyer will receive a very different set to the next (you can even choose your own cover); and what it means for the reviewer is that their critical take might not relate at all to the reader’s experience.
Putting fans in control is very nice, of course (and the website interface is a lot of fun). But what does it mean for the band? Could they not decide between these 20 songs? The Future Is Medieval can’t be seen as any true statement, artistically, because the product is so flexible. This is not Kaiser Chiefs "doing a Radiohead" – Radiohead presented a very definite release (with both In Rainbows and The King of Limbs), suitably sequenced by the makers themselves. Do the Kaisers care not for the album format? (Arguably, no – they have always seemed a singles band first.) This is a mix-tape really, not a long-player in the traditional sense. And before listening to any of these tracks, the cynical can see its launch as a way of distracting from the diminishing returns of the band’s music over their three previous collections. Off With Their Heads? More like Get This Off My Stereo, Thanks.
Listen, though, and it does become clear that this is a new Kaisers in more than a servicing sense – they’ve upped their creative ante somewhat, a number of these songs (assuming you pick the ‘right’ ones) coming across as more measured and mature, and a heck of a lot gloomier, than the upbeat bounce-alongs of old. Lead single Little Shocks goes some way to showcasing this murkier atmosphere – where before there was shiny hooks, here the chorus doesn’t leap from the speakers and the whole piece swells with unexpected drama. Can’t Mind My Own Business is indie-pop trapped in a Tron cabinet, while Heard It Break is a sinister sibling of something The Human League might write. Starts With Nothing examines the transitory nature of fortune, of wealth monetary and emotional – it’s rudimentary lyrically, but nevertheless a significant tonal shift for an act predominantly associated with anthems for football terraces. Child of the Jago claims, "This is your nightmare calling" – not quite, but there’s no doubt that the Kaisers have been exploring their darker side, with some exceptional results.
The Future Is Medieval is impossible to review as an album proper, because it’s not. It’s what you make it, literally, and as a result it can be as good, or as bad, as the listener designs it to be. Personally, it seems like a great marketing exercise (or worse, given the rewards to fans for selling their own version, like street-teaming) rather than a memorable music event. Will it change how albums are made? Of course not – artists already know that buyers will choose to download particular songs; all that’s different here is that you have to make that number up to 10 (although some will 'buy twice', downloading all of the songs available). Will it boost the Kaisers’ profile at a time when their stock’s at an all-time low since the breakout days of debut LP Employment? Absolutely, hence all of these words here. Which are worthless, of course, because this is not an album.
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Top Customer Reviews
My only warning on that front is that, if you have downloaded 10 or 20 songs from their website, it might be wise to tell you that there is only one new track here not seen on that selection. Or anything up to 9 new ones, had you not done the 'make your own album' dealio. That track, Kinda Girl You Are, is one of the best tracks on this excellent selection.
Elsewhere, it's a great collection of songs; Little Shocks is the obvious single off the album, and Long Way From Celebrating is the next obvious choice. Out Of Focus displays a, well, more focused and psycadelic side to the Kaisers, as does many of the drum fills in the selections; Starts With Nothing has a outro that The Beatles or The Who would be proud of (Cousin In The Bronx, not featured on the physical release, cuts a similar tune). Other highlights include Dead Or In Serious Trouble, which would've probably been better suited as the album closer, the 80's pop of Heard It Break, and the wildly ambitious Man On Mars.
It's very hard to listen to if you had already created 10 songs and got used to your own tracklisting (as I have) and I do feel that I prefer my own version, but this is what you make of it. It seems a crime that Problem Solved isn't on here, as with I Dare You, but that's up to them. Is it an album? Now it is, but I feel you still need to judge it not on on this release, but on your own selections too. This release is probably equal to their best work, and probably the most adventurous they've gone yet.
And it's NOT Off With Their Heads. Hoorah!
Beginning with lead single "Little Shocks" which has a great funky groove beat running through it and even surprises us with a guitar solo near the end, it's the kinda song The kaiser Chiefs do so well. Second song "Things Change" even sounds a bit like David Bowies "Fame" with some infectious beats. One of the stand out tracks is "Coming Up For air" which has a great chorus and recalls memories of "You can Have It All" from debut album "Employment". The track "Long Way From Celebrating" has a great bass line running through it as it changes from mid tempo to fast and back to mid again.
"Starts With Nothing" has a nice piano sound and a bit of rhythm that carries the song to a big middle section. "Out of Focus" has an electronic feel to it and has some big sounding beats. "Child of the Jago" has the feel of a lazy summers day about it. "Heard it Break" sounds like it's straight out of the 1980's with it's electronic synthesizer sound, it even has elements of Kraftwerk or The Human league about it! Album closer "If You Will Have Me" which is sung by Drummer and chief songwriter Nick Hodgson finishes the album on a quiet note as he sings quietly over an acoustic guitar.
With "The Future Is Medieval" the Kaiser Chiefs have shown they still know how to deliver a catchy tune and have some fun and while some people might not be happy that one of the other songs that they liked or picked wasn't included on the final album they can't complain too much as the 13 songs that did certainly catch the spirit of what the Kaiser Chiefs are all about.
Unlike the review at 1 star, i dont care about how much i have to spend, i have this CD, itunes copy, and the one off their website... Their music is worth it to drown out the crap thats in the charts right now!!
Make your own album. Ignore this retail version.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought as a present and my nephew loved it great musicPublished 5 months ago by Mr. David J. Musgrave
Bought this because of the extra tracks not available on the CD but availble on the limited edition vinyl album. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Brian Whitelaw