With a history of songs like “I Predict A Riot” and “The Angry Mob,” Kaiser Chiefs have been known to come across as political activists. On their fifth release, Education, Education, Education & War, they deliver diatribes against institutionalized education and industrial pollution within massive arrangements that sound like they could have sprung from a Broadway rock musical. There are echoes of Pink Floyd and XTC in the biting lyrics, but Kaiser Chiefs singer Ricky Wilson has his own distinct brand of showmanship.
Wilson’s voice soars on lines like, “You and me on the front lines” during the catchy and off-kilter “Bows & Arrows,” and “We lost more than we saved” on the hard-charging “Ruffians On Parade.” “The Factory Gates,” a song about how schools ultimately prepare students for military careers, opens with dramatic sound effects, and the high-powered “Cannons” breaks into a spoken word poem with almost whimsical lines like, “There’s a plan to abandon the planet, one V.I.P. at a time.” In addition to songs about war and stress, there’s the lush, atmospheric ballad, “Coming Home.” Education, Education, Education & War is a persuasive concept album that might have the potential to become an American Idiot type of theatrical production.