'The Biba-hippy lifestyle outlined in "303" seems irredeemably naff'
Kula Shaker K Columbia SHAKER 1 CD
Friday 20 September 1996
There's nothing wrong with that per se - none of their Britpop peers exactly shun the influence of earlier decades; but Kula Shaker's sound and style seem so completely uninformed by any hint - musically, politically - of the intervening three decades that it's virtually an anachronistic absurdity. Still, that never did Paul Weller's career any harm. Like Weller, Kula Shaker cleave to that moment when mods like the Small Faces discovered LSD; they spice their psychedelic pop with just enough R&B punch on tracks like "Hey Dude" and "Grateful When You're Dead", appropriating on the latter the descending riff from the Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man". That's tough company to keep, and given their 30-year head start, they don't make too much of it. Without the Zeitgeist to excuse them, the love-over-gold hippy sentiments of "Hey Dude" and the Biba-hippy lifestyle outlined in "303" just seem irredeemably naff and middle class.
There's an impressive blend of dynamism and melody to parts of the album but overall it seems prefabricated and impersonal, built from metal and plastic rather than carved from wood and stone. When they use sitars, for instance, it's not in the rudimentary manner of classic hippy prog- rock, but with a worldly ease at odds with the ethereal intentions. Everything's so polished, with barely a hair out of place: despite Crispian Mills's suggestion, in "303", that he might "grow myself a big old hairy moustache", it's the least hairy music you'll hear all year. They'll be massive, of course.
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