Kaiser Chiefs - Love's Not A Competition (But I'm Winning)

Tim Miller 13/11/2007

Rating: 4/5

The relentlessly breezy Leeds mob have, for perhaps the first time since they bounded onto the music scene and refused to budge, pulled something unexpected out of their keyboardist's hat. So often playing the rebels without a cause - or a clue - blustering their way through goofy and overblown music for the masses, 'Love's Not A Competition' is almost a shock to the senses; in that it is, by welcome way of change, not an attempt at visceral, aural assault.

Instead, this new single is sparingly scored, opening with and constructed around Ricky's brazen Northern timbre and a plainly-strummed acoustic. While Ricky's voice doesn't 'do' the necessary delicate style that a song like this would otherwise require, his vocal, and its occasional harmony, is reminiscent of Duran Duran: and they did alright despite their oral shortcoming, didn't they. The lyrics - and this is a shock - have a faint Morrissey glow to them, and lines like “You know what it's like when you're new to the game - but I'm not” seem to contain a genuine sense of understated, self-pitying irony.

Free from the pretence of playing dumb, 'Love's Not a Competition' is continuously tactful; a spangly but simple guitar refrain tolls here and there, the drums emerge bashfully, there's not a tinny synth melody in sight and the whole track remains very much a solemn affair. It's as close as Kaiser Chiefs have got to a ballad, and maybe there's life in this mob after all.