Britain’s Kaiser Chiefs will always live under the shadow of Employment, their 2005 breakthrough debut and still best album. Like many other U.K. alt acts that broke through in the prior decade, the subsequent years hadn’t been that kind to them, but more recently turned things around, at least. 2014’s Education, Education, Education and War (QRO review) saw them take a political turn that, while not revelatory (or getting them out of Employment’s shade), still held up well enough. With Stay Together, there’s an even more significant shift, into the disco & uplift that is so hot these days, and again, while not revolutionary, actually does well enough.
There are basically two sides to Stay Together. On songs like opener “We Stay Together”, “Good Clean Fun”, and “Press Rewind”, it is the darker discotheque, with the quality rising & falling based on how good the beats are. But there is also the soaring uplift of “Hole in My Soul”, “Parachute”, and “Still Waiting”, which do veer into the saccharine. The two sides do run together a bit, leaving better the one-offs like the wistful & relaxed disco of “Indoor Firework” and particularly the sly stepper “Sunday Morning”, with its hints of nineties Britpop wryness.
A move this decided could have gone vary badly for Kaiser Chiefs, especially a move into popular styles like disco and uplift. But, in a way, it comes off as refreshing (and not permanent), an act comfortable with themselves.