“Kaiser Chiefs have done rather well out of having ideas above our station,” decides Ricky Wilson, reflecting on the multi-platinum pop crusade that continues this summer with the release of brilliantly idiosyncratic pop record Stay Together — the follow up to the #1 album Education, Education, Education & War. “Making our first album, we weren’t trying to be the best indie band in Leeds. We weren’t even just competing with guitar bands. Almost by accident, we were competing with Girls Aloud.”
Funny how things turn out. Fast-forward twelve years and the country’s biggest girlband have split, reformed and split again. Kaiser Chiefs, meanwhile, have managed lose only one member and now present their sixth album. It’s a spiky, surprisingly romantic affair bursting with the verve, ambition and great tunes that first propelled the band to household name status, and it’s been produced — plot twist! — by Brian Higgins, the Grammy award-winning producer whose Xenomania hit factory conjured Girls Aloud’s record-breaking run of Top 10 singles.
Alongside euphoric lead single Parachute, Stay Together boasts a double-chorused title track that sounds like it’s been plucked from somewhere between the grooves of the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, and takes the listener on a journey through pulsating electro (Press Rewind) and low-slung grooves (Good Clean Fun). And that’s before you even consider anthemic banger Hole In My Soul, a song so festival-ready it’s already packed its wellies.
“We noticed something on our last tour,” Ricky recalls, explaining the album’s genesis. “Before we’d go on stage we’d play an hour of music to get hyped up. We’d play the new release by a guitar band, and everyone would think it was quite good. Next thing you know someone’s thrown on Major Lazer and everyone’s dancing and going berserk. I remember thinking, one night, when all this was happening: ‘Do you know what, I don’t think we’re into making a standard guitar record this time round’.”
As fans of Brian Higgins’ work — which also includes music with Pet Shop Boys, Kylie, Gossip, New Order and Saint Etienne — and his unconventional approach to writing, Kaiser Chiefs approached the producer, who agreed to see them live. “The bottom line with Kaiser Chiefs,” Higgins says, “is that those first singles were fucking great and as quintessentially English as anything Blur did. The gig blew my mind, but I noticed that it’s hard to dance at a Kaiser Chiefs concert. I thought it’d be great to add more a groove, welding their new wave attitude with something you could dance to.”