A young Pete Doherty once said, “I subscribe to the Umberto Eco view that Noel Gallagher is a poet and Liam‘s a town crier”. If we’re to apply a similar logic here, then perhaps Kasabian’s Serge Pizzorno is a composer and Tom Meighan is the town’s human cannonball. Away from his bandmate’s propane showmanship, here Pizzorno makes his solo debut as The S.L.P. to explore the extremes of the sound he helped form to shape a generation of indie – but will it hold the same thrills?
Opener ‘Meanwhile In Genova’ sees us in with the chilling Ennio Morricone spaghetti Western cinematics as we heard on ‘48:13’s instrumental moments, before a little bit of a Guy Ritchie gangster shoot-out vibe really adds some muscle and bravado. With ‘Lockdown’, Serge really kicks open those swingin’ saloon doors with some sultry electro swagger.
Serge still has all the fire that you’ve come to know him for, but this time he’s deploying it a little more seductively, with some truly surprising left turns. A slow-rising soulful dancefloor epic, ‘((trance))’ has the tasteful touch of a classic Chemical Brothers album track, with the party propped up by the hip-hop pogo of ‘The Wu’. With its pulsing, call-to-arms synthy intro, ‘Soldiers 0008’ feels like the dark, introverted cousin to Kasabian’s ‘Vlad The Impaler’ (the cousin who grew up on the darkweb listening to Aphex Twin) while ‘Youngest Gary’ tricks you into thinking that we’re going down a similar acid rock path to his other band, with a riff not dissimilar to Smashing Pumpkins’ ‘Rocket’, though it soon collapses into a psyched-out kaleidoscope of baggy beats and space-age disco.
The wandering Madchester bassline of lead single ‘Favourites’ is perhaps as close as the record comes to the Kasabian sound, but it’s brought bang up to speed by some crisp production, lyrics of digital alienation and the welcome bars of the unfeasibly talented Little Simz. Slowthai is his other Mercury-nominated zeitgeisty guest, but while you’d expect Pizzorno and Northampton’s finest to create something rather feral and unholy, instead they’ve made a brooding and dour soundscape.
Aside from the finger-picking instrumental of ‘Kvng Fv’, the guitar does not really take centre stage on The S.L.P.’s debut. Pizzorno best shows off his flair for a pure tune away from the six-string on the Ibiza-ready piano trance euphoria of ‘Nobody Else’. This album is the stylish and streetwise mash-up of genres that you’d hear on an UNKLE or Gorillaz record. It never really blasts off, but this time it’s more about the journey than how fast you get there.