Kasabian ‘Velociraptor’ – Review

28 Sep

For an album that has been promoted as a back to basics rock n roll record, I wasn’t expecting to hear horns, strings and choral samples on the opening track to Kasabian’s fourth album, ‘Lets Roll Just Like We Used To’. It seems that somewhere along the line I forgot that the band aren’t the Britpop bothering, Oasis wannabees they are sometimes painted as (and are sometimes all too happy to be painted as). On ‘Man of Simple Pleasures’,  Tom sings ‘All my life I’ve been taken for a fool’ – he’s probably justified in saying that, there are many misconceptions about his band. ‘Velociraptor’ does indeed rock hard, and it does indeed set its sights on a mass audience, but at the same time it’s a well crafted, intelligent record that has enough depth to keep make a mockery of the ‘lad rock’ tag.

In fact their greatest strength is combining their old school rock n roll tendencies with a very modern, mix and match approach; they have attitude and swagger but they aren’t afraid to pull something unusual out of the bag. The first singles released from ‘Volaceraptor’ were ‘Switchblade Smile’ and ‘Days are Forgotten’, two Zepplin-esque rockers that fail to ignite in the same way that their other lead singles did, but do a pretty good job of introducing the album. ‘Goodbye Kiss’ will surely be single number three, it’s a lovely ballad, equal parts Shmaltz and attitude, stuck together by reverb soaked tambourines and gentle acoustic guitar strumming – back in the day a song like this would have been a massive hit.

There are signs of both stadium ambition and manic experimentation on the album’s mid-section; the string and horn arrangements on tracks like ‘Turkish Acid Bath’ and ‘Velociraptor’ are genuinely impressive and the lyrics, whilst a bit cliched in a psychedelic way, actually compliment the music very well and say some interesting things about love, loss and being screwed up by drugs. Apparently Serge gave up acid before making the album, but the zanyness of some of these songs makes me question the validity of that claim; ‘I Hear Voices’ has a weird synth line that makes t feel like a product of Sega in the late 80’s, and ‘La Free Verte’ is just downright odd. If I had a big complaint about this album it would be that occasionally it steers too close to the clichéd and nostalgic. Also, whilst Tom is becoming a great frontman he’s still not an amazing singer, his melodies are a bit obvious, not to mention a bit brash, as if he’s trying to reach the person at the very back of the stadium, even during the restrained moments. He’s making strides in the right direction though, particularly on the more poppy songs.

Kasabian have all the swagger of the last gang in town, and whilst they aren’t the only band in the world who have still got it, the very fact that they believe they are ensures that this is an album made with purpose and confidence. But although ‘Velociraptor’ strives for greatness it falls short; it lacks a classic single to propel it forwards and sometimes the elements that make up the songs (eg the arrangements and instrumentation) are more interesting than the songs themselves, which too often rely on predictable melodies and borrowed riffs. But although ‘Velociraptor’ is unfortunately not Kasabian’s masterpiece, it continues the good work done by their last album ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum and it’s sure to win over everyone from the proper rock fan, to the radio 1 listener to the more introverted listener, which is an increasingly difficult job. And honestly, can you name a better out and out rock album released this year, let alone one that’s simultaneously as ballsy and intelligent? I would struggle.

7.5/10

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