Sunday, 28 July 2019

Kaiser Chiefs - Duck

The Chiefs are back with their seventh album, the randomly titled 'Duck', an LP that feels like it returns to the classic sound of their earlier albums, abandoning the more electronic-vibe of 'Stay Together', whilst keeping the strong production of 'Education, Education, Education and War', arguably the best of the set. With some retro flavours and plenty of catchy radio-friendly hooks this should keep the fans very happy.

'Duck' opens with the catchy second single 'People Know How To Love One Another' and though its chorus is pretty straight-forward the repetition does allow the hook to build, and the persistent drum beat drives it forward, with a break down that sounds like it is going to be great live. It's a strong album opener that sets out the stall for what's to come, with a foot-stamping big number, and establishes the influences of the Beatles that percolates through the album.

'Golden Oldie' harks back to 'Employment' in its lyrical style with another strong catchy chorus, and the recognisably retro production style. Track three 'Wait' boasts a brassy backing track, cool distorted vocals, and is the most sixties-sounding on the album until references to Stacey Solomon and clickbait showcase its gentle ribbing of modern culture. 

Track four 'Target Market' is one of the album's slower numbers, once more mixing modern and old-fashioned references, this time comparing relationships to a marketing meeting, all wrapped up in a gentle light production. The sub-3-minute 'Don't Just Stand There, Do Something' has the feeling of a popular and quirky live-favourite, throwing in references to some potential everyday situations with a fun, fast-paced poetic and visual delivery and the chantable titular chorus, plus the most abrupt ending to a song you can imagine. Imagine a 'Guilty Conscience' for the pop generation.

Lead single 'Record Collection' evokes the spirit of the bass-line from Queen's 'Radio Ga Ga' and the rhythm of 'Oops Upside Your Head' to most resemble their previous album. A strange one on first listen, the heavy production, rap-like delivery and singable chorus all work together. It's a bit over-egged at times like they're throwing the complete toolbox of effects at the wall but it feels like a successful experiment.

The album takes a little downhill turn at this point. 'The Only Ones' has a strong chorus but it feels a little bland after the energy of the previous track and comes across like a second attempt at 'Target Market'. 'Lucky Shirt' is a little better, with a smoother, gentler vibe and a cool series of synth lines that add some spark, but lyrically it's forgettable outside of the gambling-referencing building chorus.

Whereas many albums would taper out by this point, 'Duck' throws out some hard-hitters in its dying ten-minutes. 'Electric Heart', with its multi-layered vocal effects and the 'She's electric' hook next to some comparative lyrics, adds some care back into the process. This track, though, leads into the double-punch of the album's best two tracks.

The best song on 'Duck' is the quirky, funny and catchy in equal measure 'Northern Holiday' which builds up throughout its opening minute to paint a vivid picture of summer whilst reaching the very singable chorus with a big smile. Packed full of throwback references this is an absolute joy and is the album's true ear-worm; I can easily listen to this on a loop.

The party continues and wraps up 'Kurt Vs Frasier (The Battle For Seattle)' which keeps the references coming. With a jaunty swagger of a back-line the bridge and chorus work together to be a great little sing-a-long to bring 'Duck' to its 'Hey Jude'-esque conclusion.

The Kaisers' new album won't win over their detractors but that's no the point. It's unashamedly retro and kitsch in parts but does channel their earlier successes. If you want to hear some catchy, fun and outright poppy songs that will bring a happy smile to your face then you can't go far wrong with 'Duck'. (7.5/10)

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Top 40 of 2019 (So Far)

As we reach the half way stage of 2019 it's time for me to unveil my favourite forty songs of the year so far in order of preference.

It would be great to hear your thoughts on my list. Let me know in your comments which songs I've missed and which should be higher!


YouTube playlist: 40-31

40 Noble Jacks - Rely On Love (Feb)
39 Christian Loffler feat. Mohna - Like Water (Feb)
38 Mark Shepherd - The Grand Scheme Of Things (Feb)
37 Meghan Trainor - Badass Woman (May)
36 Nina Nesbitt - Love Letter (Apr)
35 The Young Punx - Wonderland (June)
34 Halsey - Nightmare (May)
33 Frankie Swain - Hook Line and Sinker (May)
32 Marina - Handmade Heaven (Feb)
31 Calvin Harris and Rag 'n' Bone Man - Giant (Jan)


YouTube playlist: 30-21

30 Larkins - TV Dream (Feb)
29 Tamara Stewart - Haunted House (Feb)
28 George Ezra - Pretty Shining People (Mar)
27 The Veronicas - Think of Me (May)
26 Sigrid - Don't Feel Like Crying (Mar)
25 Rayelle - Get Dat (Mar)
24 Lizzo - Juice (Jan)
23 Callum Beattie - Connection (Apr)
22 Lucy Spraggan - Lucky Stars (Mar)
21 Bob Sinclar feat. Robbie Williams - Electrico Romantico (Jan)


YouTube playlist: 20-11

20 Lewis Capaldi - Someone You Loved (Feb)
19 The Impersonators - Sad Café (Mar)
18 Spray - I Wonder Where the Wonder Goes (Original Mix) (May)
17 Sharon Van Etten - Seventeen (Jan)
16 Léon - You And I (Feb)
15 Rob Thomas - Timeless (Apr)
14 Dua Lipa - Swan Song (Jan)
13 Emma Stevens feat. Kevin Jeremiah - Because It's You (May)
12 Kaiser Chiefs - Record Collection (May)
11 slowthai & Mura Masa - Doorman (Jan)

Top Ten

10 Taylor Swift feat. Brendon Urie - ME! (Apr)
It may be much poppier and cheesier than much of her recent popular material, but if you can stomach the precocious promotional video you'll discover a rather catchy pop hit which benefits from the call and response vocals of the pairing.

09 Bear McCreary feat. Serj Tankian - Godzilla (Apr)
A more upbeat cover of the 1977 Blue Öyster Cult song, this is from the end credits of the recent Godzilla sequel and proved to be the best thing of the lacklustre movie. A strong tongue-in-cheek catchy number.

08 Busted - Shipwrecked in Atlantis (Mar)
Busted back to their best with their first album sound. It may come across as a cross between 'Crash and Burn' and their Thunderbirds song but it's fun and irreverent in equal measure.

07 Walter Martin - Do-Dilly-Do (A Friend Like You) (Apr)
From the delightful film 'Missing Link' this is a quirky and gentle little number with a sweet heart.

06 Keith Urban feat. Kassi Ashton - Drop Top (June)
Its lyrics aren't particularly highbrow but the tempo shifts and the country-pop vibe make this a great memorable number.

05 Keane - The Way I Feel (June)
Taken from their new upcoming album this bouncy ode to dealing with mental health is a strong juxtaposition between upbeat pop music and darker lyrics.

04 White Lies - Tokyo (Jan)
A very welcome return for 'White Lies', 'Tokyo' is a song that will quickly stick in your head thanks to its catchy, chantable chorus, which I imagine will be a live favourite.

03 Robbie Williams - I Just Want People To Like Me (Jan)
With some baiting lyrics aimed at his fans as much as his detractors, this lead single from his b-side collection is better than some of his bigger hits, and has a huge, singable chorus.

02 Ward Thomas - No Filter (Jan)
The duo that continue to release some brilliant singles as well as albums, this social media-referencing lead single employs one of the best bridges from verse to chorus in many years.

01 Georgia - About Work The Dancefloor (Mar)
Proving that YouTube adverts sometimes work when they're not trying to flog you a Netflix subscription or Grammarly, I discovered Georgia and this song through an advertised live set. The electronic style, strong production and quirky nature all work together to make this the best song of the year so far, and the video is excellent as well. It's been a long time since I've heard something as genuinely interesting as this.

And before I leave you to the comments, here are four songs I discovered in 2019 that would have appeared somewhere in the list had they been released this year!

  • Alice Merton - Lash Out
  • Andy Burrows & Matt Haig - Barcelona
  • Chasing Deer - Placebo
  • Kelsea Ballerini - Miss Me More