NME Awards Tour: The Killers, Futureheads, Bloc Party, Kaiser Chiefs 2005 David Bennun
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NME Awards Tour/
The Killers/
Bloc Party/
Kaiser Chiefs

[The Mail On Sunday, 2005]

IF EVER SOME latter-day Lenny Kaye compiles a Nuggets-style collection from mid-noughties indie rock, he'll have rich pickings: a wealth of bands, each of which could and usually did compress its essence into a single track. It's fitting that The Strokes are often credited with sparking the current scene; entirely summed up as they are by Last Night.
 The current obsession with the post-punk era isn't the problem per se. An audience which missed the original records is more than eager to hear the reworkings. What's worrying is a reverent fidelity to the past, worthy of a madrigal society, that stifles variation and novelty. Each new band picks two or three old ones and does them to a T. The acts now touring under the NME Awards banner deserve a chance to develop, but I'll be pleasantly surprised if most of them take it.
 Leeds's Kaiser Chiefs (**) have the vim of the upstart mod revival groups they patently worship, along with two fine songs, which is one more than most. Oh My God is fashionably alienated and evocatively moody, while I Predict A Riot clatters meatily through scenes of urban chaos. An album's worth of such stuff would be a real achievement; the remainder of the set suggests that's some way off.
 Live, London quartet Bloc Party (*) bring to their barbed, neurotic disco/funk a jittery electricity they didn't quite capture on forthcoming LP, Silent Alarm. They put me in mind of Galvani's frog experiment: plenty of twitching nerves and muscle, but you can't be sure there's life at the heart of it. Maybe I'm missing something; they're much acclaimed, but simply don't engage me.
 For all their evident aspirations, their nice line in harmonies, and one cracking single (A to B), Sunderland's The Futureheads (**) have something of The Members or The Lurkers about them, which makes them as futuristic as a dog in a space suit. I could forgive them that; but not their steamrolling of Kate Bush's fabulous, eccentric Hounds of Love. Sometimes the best tribute is to leave things alone.
 The Killers (***) seem to have written their songs rather than constructed them from a kit. This Las Vegas outfit bring magnetism to the stage for the first time tonight. Their sense of scale is garnered from U2 and Oasis, and they've sidestepped the stuffiness that afflicts most acolytes of those bands. Minus the hundreds (thousands soon, no doubt) chanting along, their unapologetically unsubtle anthems would make no more sense than a drum major without a parade.
 For all that they sound like a host of other things (most of them brash, British and featured John Hughes's 1980s teen flick soundtracks), the Killers have the distinction of also sounding like themselves. They're not trying to be clever, or sharp, or wry. They're trying to big, in every sense; and on this showing, it's hard to see what could stop them.

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