Kaiser Chiefs
Employment (b-Unique)

The final nail in The Twenty-First Century Substoogey Garage Rock Movement's coffin. The hammerers, Leeds' Kaiser Chiefs, should by rights be hailed as augurs of a golden future time. As ever though, there's a but.

It's this: 'Employment', for all its tuneful bluster and perky-perky-cheek-cheek, contributes precisely nish to the brave new sound whipround. It's Britpop, Jim, exactly as we know it: Rucanor tracksuit, crush on Louise Wener, the fucking works.

That's not to say that it's entirely without merit, however. For a start, it makes tired twentysomethings feel all adolescent and dewy-eyed. More universally, it's an unashamedly fizzbangpow POP record: there's neither a trace of self-indulgence nor the hint of a po-face. In places (the eruditely titled and preposterously Sparksish Na Na Na Na Naa; opener Every Day I Love You Less and Less), Employment bounces both deftly and daftly through the speakers like a juggernaut of gay abandon and is very very good. Keyboards slither lithely over spikey guitars and choruses detonate like firecrackers and momentarily you reckon the hype machine and the kids upon which it is inflicted might have got this one right.

But when it's bad, GOD it's ugly. 'Time Honoured Tradition', for example, sounds like a substandard musical number from a particularly hellish episode of Playbus, and 'Saturday Night' impressively melds the most annoying elements of the work of Andrew WK and Blur, to catastrophically fuck-awful effect. The Hits, 'I Predict A Riot' and 'Oh My God', are pretty representative of 'Employment' as a whole - tunes so stupidly simple they could have been penned on a football terrace with enough substance to sound great live but not enough to warrant more than three listens tops.

The resultant effect is not dissimilar to watching one of those odious 'I Love 1996' voxpop things where Stuart Maconie, Kate Thornton and a cavalcade of other pop culture Beelzebubs cynically reduce The Best Years Of Your Life to nostalgic squeals, whilst being slobbered on by a large, overfriendly dog.

Matt Abysmal