Kaiser Chiefs - Souvenir - The Singles 2004-2012
Greatest hits albums are a strange thing. They usually mean only one of two things: either you are a massive pop sensation with so many hits you need someplace to put them all, or, your albums aren't selling as well as they should and you need to boost sales. Greatest hits are really the domain of pop stars - the "hit makers", performers not noted for their 'oeuvres' or concept albums. The ones who have their starry eyes fastened on the Top 40. They tend not to be really something for indie bands to consider.
So indie band Kaiser Chiefs have released a greatest hits album. This can mean one of two things: either they have so many hits they need someplace to put them, or, their albums aren't selling as well as they used to. Once upon a time The Kaiser Chiefs were big. Really big. I mean, when The Wurzels cover one of your songs you know you've hit the big time. Out of the guitar bands to have come out of the early noughties, Franz Ferdinand, The Editors, Kasabian, etc. KC were the ones that - literally- made the most noise. Sing-along-anthems coupled with a cute be-suited Ricky Wilson and his high jumps - you couldn't beat it. Yet as the guitar band recedes into the background, with neo-folkies and big-throated divas clogging up the airwaves instead, Ricky and the boys have fallen on moderately tough times.
This collection of tunes shows us one thing - that though KC may be less adept at crafting albums that will live long into posterity, they are very good at writing some pretty nifty, stick-in-the-head tunes. And while Souvenir may contain some filler (they don't have that many hits) the others are ones that most of us can sing along to even if we have never bought into the whole Chiefs experience - 'Oh My God', 'Ruby', 'Every Day I Love You Less And Less'. These are fun, cleverly crafted nuggets of pure joy.
Yet for every silly, throwaway tune there are some that run a bit deeper than the band are sometimes given credit for. 'Everything Is Average Nowadays' and 'Angry Mob' capture the apathy and disgruntlement of a disenfranchised youth ("We are the angry mob / We read the papers every day / We like who like / We hate who we hate / But we're also easily swayed"), while the excellent 'Never Miss A Beat', with its tongue firmly in cheek, celebrates Britain's leaders of tomorrow - raised on fast food, Nintento and reality TV.
So though their glory days may be behind them, let us celebrate the patron saints of the underachievers. Not everything is average nowadays.