Brits Above Us Conjure a Snappy Decade While Leaving the Crud Behind

On Kaiser Chiefs' debut, Employment, the slick Leeds, England, quintet evokes, like Franz Ferdinand, '80s memories without using an especially '80s sound. The band's melodies have the highly evolved, set-decorated sunniness that '80s snap-masters such as the ska-mad Madness, say, mustered. But Kaiser Chiefs give everything a rockin' spin. Their debut sounds better than Franz Ferdinand's expressive crud; it sounds like it was recorded upstairs.

In fact, Kaiser Chiefs flow so well that even given the nonstop electro-like riffs, hooks, and knowingly cornball solos played by guitarist Whitey, the songs as a group can over-egg the pudding as only powerpop can. But as a record-making matter, Employment is nearly without flaws. "Everyday I Love You Less and Less" sports keyboards punkier than the rhythm, and singer Ricky Wilson's voice has the right sort of smooth, self-regarding tenor to boast of how his loved ones carry around his picture. The equally facile "I Predict a Riot" also perfectly subdivides trouble and escape, as does "Na Na Na Na Na," which makes negativity sound delicious. The songs brim with ideas about isolation, homesickness, envy, regret—all topics that, given the music's thrilling chill, Kaiser Chiefs suggest you might discuss. In another lifetime.

Kaiser Chiefs play the Bowery Ballroom March 25.

 
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