Album: Kasabian, Velociraptor (Columbia)
Friday 16 September 2011
As on the splendid West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, Kasabian talk a good fight with Velociraptor – and if the results don't quite bear out the bluster, that's probably more a reflection of the excellence of its predecessor than a measure of its own shortcomings.
Written and produced by the guitarist Sergio Pizzorno, it opens in fine style with "Let's Roll Just Like We Used To", another of the band's tributes to fallen friends and influences. There's no shortage of grandiosity in the gong and trumpet fanfare, which slips into a bustling, swingy riff with brass and strings shadowing Tom Meighan's vocal as he yearns for the days when we used to gather in fields, "our hearts clustered in circles". But isn't that just about all summer, every summer, these days? What's to yearn for?
No matter – the sense of yearning continues into the single "Days Are Forgotten", whose rolling, anthemic menace will soon be booming around a stadium near you. "I'm waiting for someone, for something, to take me over," claims Meighan, though, of course, the unwritten subtext is that this monster riff is intended to be that very something. It's not the prime contender to take over the mantle of "Fire", however: both the high-energy bustle of "Velociraptor!" itself, with its surging organ and searing guitar, and "Re-wired" have claims on that position. The latter, one of the band's trademark effusions of ecstatic energy, yokes an eerie synth hook to a chunky, descending riff, then adds a cool string counterpoint as Meighan promises to "flip a switch to make you feel electric".
Kasabian songs have never been the place to search for deep significance, and a generalised mood of anticipation attends the barely decipherable declamations of "Switchblade Smiles", which serve simply as the human element among the cycling synth buzz, heavy guitar riff and big-beat drum barrage – the promise that among this maelstrom, there is something to hold on to.
What Kasabian prefer to hold on to, however, are the achievements of the past, most clearly referenced in "La Fee Verte", an enervated ode to dissipation and indulgence where eerie psychedelic strings and brass are draped around spooky organ and acoustic guitar. The explicit mentions of "Lucy in the sky" and "nothing is real" are quite unnecessary: it's blindingly obvious what's influenced this track, almost as much as on the average Oasis album. Small wonder, then, that "Man of Simple Pleasures" should find them claiming, "I see no future, so leave me alone in the past."
Not that their influences are restricted simply to classic rock. "I Hear Voices" is Jean Michel Jarre-style airy electropop; "Acid Turkish Bath" employs droning Arabic strings and guitar; and perhaps more surprising still, there are echoes of Lieber & Stoller's R&B-pop in "Goodbye Kiss". But "Neon Noon" closes the album where the band clearly most prefer being, lost amidst a wave of miasmic psychedelia, "floating in the emerald sky", while synths whirr and buzz around them.
DOWNLOAD THIS: Let's Roll Just Like We Used To; Re-wired; Days Are Forgotten; Neon Noon; Goodbye Kiss
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