The most under valued pop group in the United Kingdom in the 21st Century. Kaiser Chiefs are a little blessing of a band who fell between 2 or 3 or possibly 4 stalls and do not get the props they deserve.
There’s a lot of things they’re not. They include ‘cutting edge’, ‘hipster cool’, ‘heavy’, ‘sexy’ or ‘unique’. That said they’re the perfect pop band for broken brexit Britain. Pour a drink and I’ll explain.
Why? Well there’s the mainstream profile (The Voice judging, Pinball Wizard at the Olympics, the BBC patronage that has their Glastonbury sets and their …Later appearances sewn up, there’s the dalliances with Girls Aloud when they were the biggest thing going) they’re BIG but, there’s a dogged persistence in KC that bigger names just don’t have (Oasis, The Roses and The Libertines all regularly implode under their own weight, reform and then implode again) the Kaisers just keep on going, there’s the frankly brilliant live shows (they’re great live, Stadium standard, festival headlining standard, Dave Grohl can see it, why can’t you?). But none of that is worth anything if you don’t have great pop songs.
The Kaiser’s have some top draw pop songs. An enviable list of terrace chants, big ballads and dancefloor fillers. Old fashioned Milkman whistlers like Ruby, Oh My God and Never Miss A Beat are all well and good. But on wax 4 singles and 8 tracks of filler is just not their style.
After their lead hit writer quit the band to become a producer everyone expected them to fold. But no! They hired a new drummer, had a number one comeback single ( a moody retro torchsong as a comeback single?) and a number one comeback album (the awkwardly titled Education, Education, Education And War). Which was a concept album, with a weird cover and sprawling prog rock closing track that featured a spoken word segment read by Bill Nighy. So no, they’re no the 21st Century Shed Seven, thanks very much.
After all that justification, I’ll get on to the song itself. Factory Gates would be a single for any other band. It’s got buckets of XTC wit, Smithsian lyrical observation and a keyboard stomp which is all new wave and 80’s TOTP haircut band influenced.
The opening verse comes on like The Clash ‘So this is the age of the train? All aboard for the Labour exchange’ the second ‘I never left the town I was made in, Wickers World and Michael Palin’ goes a tad Billy Bragg. All over a furious stomp that could have come from 70’s glam rock.
It’s angry, it’s working class protest music, with a shot of ELO played by The Undertones.
Honestly, when they’re gone we’ll all miss them. Hail to the Chiefs.