Ooosh. Kasabian are back back back, and the burning question on everyone’s lips is, how will they be styled this time? A return to the fancy dress shop for more Mad Hatter insanity, or perhaps a journey back into prehistory for some Cretacean fun? ‘Velociraptor’ practically begs for some gigs in this get-up.
Nah, obviously we all want to know what their fourth LP, the first since their Mercury-nominated ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’, sounds like. So let’s give it a spin, on a protected mini iPod we got given for 24 hours no less…
‘Let’s Roll Like We Used To’
And so it begins, like all good albums should, with a gong. Why don’t more bands use gongs? They’re often sat there, at the back of the stage, for one massive wallop at the end of the set. Rarely used enough. Let’s get more gongs in music. Anyway, it rings out, announcing what exactly? Battle? Breakfast? A titanic opener along the lines of ‘Club Foot’ or ‘Underdog’? Sadly not; it ushers in a perfectly fine but comparatively underwhelming Last Shadow Puppets-y retro shuffle full of vague nostalgia, lyrically speaking. Not bad, but not rolling like they used to quite yet.
‘Days Are Forgotten’
This is much more like it. Dirty, diseased riffery and pagan falsetto chants usher in Numero Duo on a hard-hitting rhythmn custom built for the Empire Strut. ”Hey son, I’m looking forward / you’re leaning backward / of this I’m sure” Tom begins, wearing his best confrontational armour, before it splits into the chorus and a devilishly good guitar line. Talks about chewing monkey brains too. Some fucking odd vocals at the end though – like Itchy and or Scratchy putting out a call to prayer through a megaphone steeped in honey. Hope that doesn’t show up again.
On which the drummer gets funky and everybody else gets wistful. ”La-la-la-la”’s, sweeping strings, hindsight and regret combine for a long-lost-love song in the grand British tradition. ”I hope some day that we’ll meet again” Tom sings as a sign off and Vera Lynn smiles sweetly from her grave. Oh, she’s still alive? Sorry about that.
‘La Fée Verte’
Ah, the French one. The trippy one. The Beastlesy one. ”Oh green fairy what you done to me? / I see Lucy in the sky telling me I’m high / I went out for some milk three days ago / I met Dali in the street / he knocked me off my feet”. It gets weirder. He find policemen in his bed, insects runing the show, and his neighbours tell him he needs locking up. Song’s pretty pedestrian though.
Pure Kasabian, this. Grandiloquent and nonsensical from the outset (Blast off / he tried to shoot you with precision take your face off… Velociraptor / he gonna find / he gonna kill ya / he gonna eat ya”), it’s hard to tell if the extinct predator is a metaphor or they’re really singing about a dinosaur. Tinny 80s drum fills aside it’s pretty epic musically too.
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‘Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter From the Storm)’
That weird nondescript but slightly middle eastern wail makes a comeback over strings as Kasabian head east. It’s Leicester meets Lawrence Of Arabia and a cultural adventure that works a tad better than Sex And The City 2. The mystic strings and chants wind round a relatively straightforward verse before a handclapped coda about breaking down walls. On the whole it works.
‘I Hear Voices’
Sooner or later everyone comes back to Kraftwerk. ‘I Hear Voices’ sees the retro drum pads make a comeback and a melody right off the Autobahn.
Again, classic Kasabian. Drums that strut harder than a peacock at a Beady Eye gig, dualling guitar lines that make the Rocky theme look like a Laura Marling melody, and syllables strung out longer than the Wicked Witch Of Wapping’s Medusa-like hair – all interrupted by a breakdown that will inspire all manner of air drum tomfoolery on exposure. Make it a single boys.
‘Man Of Simple Pleasures’
The guitars sound almost Spanish here, although we’re a long way from ‘Mi Chica Latina’ territory. More’s the pity. Instead it’s plodding Polyfilla that may reveal its charms, as they say, over time. Probably not. One for men of simple pleasures.
You know this one already – what do you make of it? Big tune, but does it really need those demented duck torture noises?
And so to the finale, a spacey, dreamy voyage to the farthest reaches of the galaxy with Tom ‘n’ Serge and the gang. All aboard the sleepy sleep train, let’s go.
Not enough Ooosh, but it’s got dinosaurs. If it was a Jurassic Park it’d probably be the second one.