Kasabian ‘For Crying Out Loud’ – Review

31 May

2016 was an insane year ’round these parts. For a few glorious months, Leicester was transformed from a fairly ordinary Midlands city in to the home of the greatest sporting triumph the world has ever seen, as Leicester City defied odds of 5000-1 to be crowned Premier League champions. This feet was simply unprecedented – it had been 20 years since a team of underdogs had convincingly challenged for the title (Newcastle United) and longer still since a team outside the traditional top tier of English teams had won the title (Blackburn Rovers). It was rendered more peculiar as Leicester had fought relegation in the previous season and had given little indication that they would amount to anything even remotely impressive. Their team was made up of journey men, youngsters, rejects and even a couple of non-league signings.

Kasabian have been devoted Leicester City fans from an early age. They have their own box at the stadium, they danced with Captain Wes Morgan at Jamie Vardy’s Wedding and have even had conversations with the club’s reclusive Thai owners. At the start of every game City walk out to Kasabian’s ‘Underdogs’ and every time they score a goal ‘Fire’ reverberates around the stadium. In a post match interview, city’s manager Cloudio Ranieri once praised the band and said ‘when you go on the pitch and you hear Kasabian, that means they want Warriors’. Kasabian have become to Leicester City what Oasis are to Man City. Like their football club, the band have found dizzying success against the odds. Of the crop of ambitious young guitar bands to emerge at the start of the last decade, only Arctic Monkeys and Kings of Leon are still shifting albums in higher numbers. Who in 2005 would have put money on Kasabian outlasting and outselling Razorlight, Kooks or Franz Ferdinand?

It’s fitting then that the band soundtracked the jubilant celebrations that took place in Leicester last May. They performed at City’s trophy parade and shortly after hosted their own two night residency at the King Power Stadium. With no album to promote, the gigs essentially became parties devoted to celebrating the club’s success. They dedicated the sole new song to departed friends who couldn’t be there; ‘Put Your Life On It’ was a perfectly uplifting moment in the set list – the lights aloft anthem that the band had been missing. A banner behind the band read ‘For Crying Out Loud’, which summed emotions up perfectly. That motto has become the title of this, the band’s sixth album (For Crying Out Loud is a favourite saying of Kasabian’s roadie, whose ugly mug also adorns the album art). The record takes Leicester city’s joy, wonderment and odd-defying success and translates it in to an album of upbeat, feel good rock n roll songs.

Kasabian’s blend of anthemic melodies, crunching riffs and rave ‘vibes’ has fallen so far out of favour that the album immediately sounds, in the best sense, like a relic from a prehistoric age. It’s been a while since I’ve heard a rock album as blatantly far reaching as this one. It would be easy to be cynical – this style of music may be out of favour now but it was rinsed to death as far back as the ’90s – but the band pull it off with such enthusiasm that you’d have to be miserable indeed not to fall under their spell. The hooks in ‘Comeback Kid’ and ‘King For A Day’ don’t so much worm their way in to your ears as batter you sideways around the head from the off. No element is subtle but each one is very finely wrought – from the saxophone break in the Blondie referencing ‘Are You Looking For Action’ to the vocal chant in ‘God Bless this Acide House’ – nothing here is unprecedented but feels expertly implemented nonetheless.

Kasabian’s music is smarter than they are given credit for. Critics love to label them as Lad-Rock, pin point their audience as blokey and basically diminish their output and patronise their fan base at any given opportunity. It makes me wonder if these people have actually bothered to listen to their albums or if they’ve just heard ‘Fire’ used in a match of the day compilation, put two and two together and got ‘meat and veg indie’ (to quote The Guardian). Their albums have always been more daring and diverse than even the most generous critics seem to grant. ‘For Crying about loud’ continues this trend whilst also being the band’s most guitar heavy effort to date. It dials back on the synth experiments of ‘48.13’ and the psychedelic genre hopping of their early albums but still manages to sound a little kooky (thanks to savvy production) at the same time as sounding totally tuneful. From top to bottom the emphasis is on water tight hooks, clear choruses and sky scraping riffs, all executed with utter expertise.

The lyrics are usually thoughtful and often funny (‘I’m like the taste of macaroni on a seafood stick’), if rarely making any serious point or emotional connection. But It would be a futile exercise in ‘well duh’ pointlessness to list the other, mostly obvious, faults of this record or highlight the inevitable filler, because ultimately this music is a means to end – the end being the live arena. So the pertinent question really is will the album’s best songs slot nicely in to the band’s setlist (as ‘Put Your Life On It’ did so wonderfully in the summer) or will they merely provide ample opportunity for toilet breaks? The answer is assuredly the former. it’s in the live environment that you can imagine these songs thriving. It doesn’t take too much imagination to picture mass sing-alongs to ’24/7′ or mosh pits sprouting to ‘Ill Ray’. While they will probably never come close to matching the undeniable ssuccess of ‘Club Foot’, ‘LSF’ or ‘Fire’ the fact that they repeatedly come close, six albums in to their career, is better than most bands could manage. Eye rolling cynics be damned, Kasabian fans are in for a treat next time the band roll in to town.

7.5/10

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