Employment

Studio Album by released in 2005
Employment's tracklist:
Everyday I Love You Less and Less
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I Predict a Riot
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Modern Way
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Na Na Na Na Naa
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You Can Have It All
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Oh My God
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Born to Be a Dancer
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Saturday Night
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What Did I Ever Give You?
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Time Honoured Tradition
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Caroline, Yes
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Team Mate
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Employment review

Sometimes the greatest success stories sprout from the tiniest of ambitions. When Kaiser Chiefs formed up in Leeds around the summer of 2003, their aim wasn't to conquer stadiums and change the world. Instead, these five Britpop-obsessed oddballs began plotting a rather more modest plan. In the shadowy corners of clubs and venues across the city Ricky Wilson (lead vocals), Andrew 'Whitey' White (guitar), Simon Rix (bass), Nick 'Peanut' Baines (keyboards and modeller of impressive pork-pie hats) and Nick Hodgson (drums and vocals) decided to form a band that would harness the awesome capability of being able to blag an early slot at the following year's Leeds Festival. Right now, everybody wants a piece of the Kaiser Chiefs. Blur's producer Stephen Street was so bowled over he offered his services for their debut album Employment, which is a bona fide pop classic.

Here the slick 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 mustered. But Kaiser Chiefs give everything a rocking spin. I Predict a Riot is one of the year's catchiest singles, a Clash-style anthem about street hassles in their native northern England town. It's a totally addictive song from a totally addictive band. 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. With nods to Brian Wilson (Caroline, Yes) and Brian Eno (Modern Way), plus the pop exuberance of Born to Be a Dancer and Na Na Na Na Naa, the Kaiser Chiefs make you want to sing along with practically every song by the second chorus. 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.

It's common for bands to grow up in public these days, but rarely in the space of a single record. Employment starts off firmly entrenched in 2005's third division of indie, strutting like The Ordinary Boys dosed-up on second-hand power pop and teenage urgency, but as the album progresses the Leeds five-piece slowly blossom into a classic Britpop band. You keep waiting for them to slip up, to tumble back into the dumb power pop rut, and it just doesn't happen. They develop, mutate, and swell in confidence until you're faced with the last thing you expected – finally, a worthy successor to Blur. Their debut is giddy with good tunes. Every song here is hummable after one listen and wedged in the brain after two. Employment is so confident, so smart, so full of life that a more enjoyable 45 minutes is hard to imagine.