Kasabian – ‘Velociraptor’ (Columbia)



Promises, promises: once again the garrulously fatuous bravado that precedes every Kasabian album reassures the public of their genius; that they are the “premier band in Britain”, and worthy of comparisons to The Beatles – Tom Meighan called ‘Velociraptor’ their ‘Revolver’: if only.  Sure, they cut it as a rousing voracious live act – indeed, they qualify for the top flight.  Hell, they even chose inspired cultural and historical reference points; absorbing an ether of space, garage, psychedelic, stoner and heavy rock into their commercially acceptable, from the  terraces swagger, musical oeuvre.  Their last auspicious tome, ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’, even borrowed its cover art from the obscure – and one of Krautrock’s finest Amon Duul II and their 1975 Gothic conceptual rock opera ‘Made In Germany’ LP; and took an adventurous musical leap forward from the bruiser-glam style they had always favored in the past. Unfortunately all these empirical observations and positives fail to materialise into anything remotely “promising“.

Fourth album, ‘Velociraptor’ name-checks one of the Cretaceous periods (around 75 – 71 million years ago) most cunning razor-sharp predators, and star of Jurassic Park. Changed and morphed to conveniently fit Hollywood’s idealized bogeyman figure in Spielberg’s dinosaur apocalypse; the velociraptor’s bite doesn’t quite match its reputation – that’s right, its a metaphorical analysis.

For some reason, the band have chosen the Artic Monkeys – or rather their last two albums – as a template; rooting through the same 60s sounds of Nuggets box-sets and beat groups that so inspired Alex Turner.  Opening salvo, ‘Let’s Roll Just Like We Used To’, gallops through a mixture of The Stones ‘Paint It Black’ and, bizarrely, Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich‘s ‘Legend Of Xanadu’, whilst tipping a hat to Turner, and Miles Kane’s, The Last Shadow Puppets side project. A familiar mariachi theme enters the fray on both this and many of the 11-tracks – the “Mexican spirit” as Sergio Pizzorno puts it – borrowed, in some instances, from Love; and with a certain romanticist pine for the Tex Mex boarder.

Not only musically, but lyrically, Kasabian allude to the past – you only have to look up the titles for evidence of that.  Meighan tends to bawl reflected rock’n’roll cliches like, “so raise your glass to the ones who have passed/ the ones that got away” (‘Let’s Roll Just Like We Used To’), or sneer resigned throwaway lines, “I see no future/ so leave me alone in the past” (‘Man Of Simple Pleasures’), and even daft meanderings through a Lennon-esque name-dropping anthem to absinthe (‘La Fee Verte’): “I see Lucy in the sky/ telling me I’m high” – platitudes that even Oasis would rebuke.  There’s also a spluttering of aggrieved attitude at those, who I assume, knock the band: “You say I’m old hat/ a fucking dirty rat/ Call me a cliche/ how right you are” (‘Days Are Forgotten’). Of course the usual voluble venom is also on offer; Meighan mockingly and disdainfully spiting, “My soul you can have it/ cos it don’t mean shit/ I’d sell it to the devil for another hit”, over the 80s disco throbbing beat of ‘I Hear Voices’.  As usual, the higher, and always more interesting, vocals of the part Sinbad the Sailor extra, part guitar-at -his -hip wiry Lothario, adorned Sergio Pizzorno (hey, at least it looks like a rock star) prove stirring. He solos on the closing track, ‘Neon Noon’; emotively crooning sentimental paeans to loss, or backs up his team mate with quivering sighs, siren wailing, and punctuating oohs and aahs.

The customary Dan The Automator – the groups producer – pulsing electro beats, breakdowns and bombast drums are all on display: even if they sound like throwbacks to UNKLE and DJ Shadow at times. Pumped-up cyclonic tumbles, ‘Days Are Forgotten’ and the title track, do the business, whilst ‘Switchblade Smiles’ is a blistering barrage of chops and caustic licks that the fans love- its also the obligatory theme for Match of the Day 2: now there’s a surprise.  Esoteric and eastern flavored tones resonate throughout – especially on the MGM biblical echoing epic ‘Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter From The Storm)’ – yet it all feels like they’re just filling in the emptiness of the basic songs with layers of pomp, and mystical allusions for effect

‘Velociraptor’ is neither an experimental or original step forward for Kasabian; in truth its a disappointment in many ways. Rather then learn from the bands they adopt and borrow, the Leicester quartet chose to merely imitate.  LL Cool J, Black Sabbath, Aphrodite’s Child, Primal Scream may be the desired sound their looking for, but instead we get a second-hand Hawkwind covering The Hollies and Happy Mondays.  Of course, they are the quintessential good-time rock’n’roll band of choice; fun and lively, with parroting sing-along lyrics for the masses, so any music critic is on a hiding to nothing in their criticism of the band.  Personally Kasabian are better as an idea then reality: they could have been so much more though.


Released: 19/ 09/ 2011







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