It will come as no surprise that Kasabian’s new effort ‘Velociraptor!’ (forget the exclamation mark at your peril) was a divisive work. It seems that critics are parted in two, with one camp spitting at Kasabian’s lad-rock Oasis homage, and the other camp convinced that there’s something more experimental afoot. Let’s have a looksee to see what all the fuss is about then.
To begin with, NME’s Barry Nicholson is in the latter camp. He credits ‘Velociraptor’ with a generous 8/10 writing, “like all Kasabian albums, ‘Velociraptor!’ is at its most satisfying when the gloves come off and the outright silliness ensues. ‘Switchblade Smiles’, which squares up to the listener like a kebab-queue psychopath over glowering synths and ill-tempered ‘Immigrant Song’ drums, is a classic example of Kasabian operating at All Systems Gonzo”.
However, he finds that overall Kasabian have left their creative streak at home, instead trying to curry favour with on-the-fence fans, noting that “‘West Ryder…’ was a commercial success almost in spite of itself, but in times like these, Kasabian can ill afford to take the piss. Ergo, ‘Let’s Roll Like We Used To’ is vintage ’60s sophisto-pop so classicist it could almost be a Last Shadow Puppets song; the neo-Kinksian ‘Man Of Simple Pleasures’ is a variation on a theme established with ‘West Ryder…’’s ‘Thick As Thieves’; even the Serge-sung ‘La Fée Verte’ (it’s pretentious for ‘The Green Fairy’), for all its talk of taking us “Down below, where insects run the show”, is basically an accomplished piece of ‘White Album’ mimicry. They’re fine songs, and not unambitious in their own way, but they’re a little more orthodox than you might expect.” He concludes that “this is an album with much to love about it, but it falls just short of their real game-changer, ‘West Ryder…’”
Meanwhile, Drowned in Sound’s Andrzej Lukowski also points out Kasabian’s experimental past, reminiscing that “they probably account for the weirdest thing in thousands of people’s record collections, they got an album called ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’ to number one, and odds are they’re about to get one called ‘Velociraptor!’ there too.” However, he gives the record a medicore 5/10, deciding in the end that the group’s “desire to snare rudderless Oasis fans has led to Kasabian attempting the sort of conventional guitar pop record that they’ve always so successfully avoided making.”
At the Guardian, Dave Simpson disagrees, and grants the Leicester band a generous 4/5 stating that “it’s the sound of a band growing in confidence and mapping out their future.” Jamie Gill, writing for BBC Music, is similarly kind, agreeing that, “It sounds like a band still uncertain of exactly where they want to be, but determined to make the way there interesting. Kitty Empire at the Observer has the final word, with a 2/5 review, bucking the trend and noting that ‘Man Of Simple Pleasures’ aside, Kasabian sound a little less desperate to prove themselves to Oasis fans this time around.”
Well, what do you lot think? Have Kasabian made the record the Gallagher brothers never could have? Or are the Oasis comparisons clouding something more special? Let us know in the comments.