Monday, June 8

Kasabian- West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum

. Monday, June 8

Edited version @Gigwise

Kasabian are a weird band when you think about it. Both hugely successful and widely derided they are a byword for lairy louts and boys from provincial towns squeezing themselves into tight jeans and growing their hair long. Topman Indie: The Soundtrack. However there is a school of thought, an unmentioned idea, that Kasabian are more than just the link between Happy Mondays and The Enemy and that they are in fact a wildly experimental and psychedelic outfit subverting a generation from behind their Stag weekend anthems. Now as they release their third album it’s time for them to play their hand and come out from behind those doors as the real Kasabian.

The initial signs are good; the record is called ‘West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum’ for a start, which to quote fellow risk taker Dizzee Rascal is more than a bit ‘bonkers’. Contrast it with ‘Music For The People’ or The View’s clanging ‘Which Bitch’ and already you’re dealing with a different beast. Daubed in Napoleonic finery the band stand proud on the cover- arrogant some would say and that perceived arrogance is certainly an albatross around Kasabian’s neck (summed up on the painful single ‘Empire’ from their second album) . The public face of the band is singer Tom Meighan and guitarist/ songwriter Serge Pizzorno (nobody really knows the other two’s name do they? £5 to anyone who can name them without using Wikipedia.) Their series of brags and boasts down the years have done nothing for the bands reputation- if anything they’ve perpetuated a myth. Too much time hanging out with Noel Gallagher can have a strange affect on a man and the empty bravado is certainly a bad habit picked up from the Mancunian gobshite. However Oasis’s patronage has allowed Kasabian to grow into the band they are today. Supporting the band across the world has seen Kasabian’s songs grow to fit arenas (Much the same way Kings Of Leon evolved by opening for Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan). However that is the Kasabian we think we know, the strutting and cock-sure sing song merchants. What ‘West Riding Pauper Asylum’ does is develop their more experimental side- bringing it up alongside their brash exterior.

Now nobody is stating that Kasabian have become the new Animal Collective or Deerhunter. However it raises an interesting question. Namely, is it more commendable to experiment within the realms of a side project heavy group of musicians where change and evolution are the norm? Or to do it on an album released months before you play second to Bruce Springsteen on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury and when successful bands (Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand) are struggling to shift third album units? Either way it is a brave move for Kasabian to record tracks like electronic and Krauty instrumental ‘Swarfiga’ or the Ennio Morricone influenced ‘West Rider Silver Bullet’ on a record being pumped out at your local HMV. It’s not all strange and new though- the bangers are still there for the inevitable crowd surge. Anyone with a TV will already know ‘Underdog’ (currently used on an Adidas commercial) and will instantly recognise it’s distorted riffs rubbing up against big beats courtesy of Gorrilaz producer Dan The Automator. Elsewhere there is the adrenalized ‘Fast Fuse’ and the groove-laden ‘Take Aim’, two of the bands danciest moments to date. Fans will also be acquainted with hit single ‘Fire’ and the irresistible ‘Vlad The Impaler’ which sees Pizzorno join the fray with his hooky refrain “Get loose, get loose.” One day Kasabian will release an excellent singles collection and this third album will provide ample fodder for those compiling it.

However it is not all good news. Amongst the impressive melodies and neat touches of flair is a band pushing themselves too far at times and hitting the inevitable hurdles. ‘Thick Of Thieves’ has one of the most ham-fisted structures heard in years and despite Meighan’s abundant confidence and charisma he still fails to carry it off. You certainly won’t make it through without lamenting the laziness of a song boasting the line “Hey ho, away we go” and a chorus consisting purely of “La, la, la’s”. It sounds somewhere between a spoof and a child’s humming’s. The Gallagher influence raises its mono-browed head again on ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, particularly on the line “wakey wakey rise and shine” with the last word inevitably elongated ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ style. Finally a word for Serge Pizzorno re: vocals- you can’t really cut it and surrounding yourself by gospel choirs (‘Happiness) really isn’t going to do anything to stop people calling you a dodgy Primal Scream tribute act.

In the family of lad-rock where Oasis are the Daddy (wise but putting on an unsightly middle aged spread), Paul Weller the cool Grandpa and The Enemy the angry little kid spilling bitter on his new Gio Goi t-shirt Kasabian are sort of the cool cousin who visits at Christmas. They’ve got a wider collection of records and have taken more drugs and that shows but they’re still loyal to their roots and family and that is ultimately their defining characteristic. Give ‘West Rider...’ a chance- it’s not as snarling as their debut and not as pompous as their second. Throwing intrigue and light invention in amongst the stadium choruses make it possibly their most accomplished work to date.

7/10

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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

You are an obnoxious cunt.

6eggs5soldiers said...

It's a good review.

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