Over the past six years, Kasabian have gone from underground club act to one of the biggest Rock bands on planet Earth. Their last album, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, took home best album honors at both the NME Awards and the Q Awards while earning the lads from Leicestershire Best Band honors at their native Brit Awards.
Yet, while in San Francisco during the recording process for their latest record Velociraptor!, Kasabian frontman Tom Meighan was shocked that no one gave him strange looks as he took long walks around The City singing along to the bands new material on his iPod. While San Francisco no doubt has an endless supply of thirty-somethings walking around with iPods, it’s a safe bet that those mp3 players have a serious lack of Kasabian. Although they have huge success across Europe, Australia and Asia the only thing America knows about the band is that their song Club Foot was featured on the video game Tony Hawk’s Project 8. With their influences out on the table for everyone to see, there is no doubt that Kasabian is looking to finally concur the Americas with Velociraptor!
The bands fourth full length release opens up with the swinging Let’s Roll Just Like We Used To. Where the first three Kasabian albums were kicked off with songs specifically designed to shake stadiums, Let’s Roll feels more like a theme from a James Bond film as opposed to something you would hear before a football match at Wembley Stadium. Featuring a brass section, crystal clear guitar tones and a giant gong, Let’s Roll slowly builds in a way that would not only make the Moody Blues proud, but encourages the listener to reach for an oversized tub of popcorn that simply isn’t there.
The track also serves as the perfect warm up to the album’s main single Days Are Forgotten. With pummeling, interlocking bass and drum beats, a simple and catchy chorus and primal shrieks courtesy of principle songwriter/guitarist Sergio Pizzorno the song is the much needed breath of fresh air that FM radio so desperately needs.
With the first stadium anthem now in the rear-view, Goodbye Kiss sneaks up on you with a surprisingly classic Barry Gordy Motown feel. A departure from the group’s typical sound, Goodbye Kiss is the type of song you want to play on a 45 and is a perfect example of the jukebox feel of Velociraptor! that Pizzorno recently discussed on BBC’s Breakfast. With Goodbye Kiss, Kasabian has written the perfect pop song. Auto-tune that mother fucker and hand it to Bruno Mars and you’ll have a million units moved stateside no problem.
Pizzorno finds himself handling the vocals for the Beatles inspired La Fee Verte. With the common American argument that Oasis was nothing but a bunch of Beatles rip-offs, La Fee Verte will not win over the nation that buys most of its music from Wal-Mart. But once you get past the Lucy In The Sky reference you realize the song is a dark tribute to Absinthe. “Now I start to see that all’s not well, there’s police men in my bed telling me I’m dead. If only I could show em what I’ve seen, I’d have to take you down below where insects run the show.” Not only does La Fee Verte work within the concept of a really good jukebox, but it gives Kasabian one more unique weapon in their already impressive arsenal.
There are artists who work best in small rooms and there are artists who work best at the home of your local professional sports franchise. Four albums in, Kasabian has perfected the craft of creating songs that move the masses. With Velociraptor! it’s almost too easy for the band at this point. It’s big; it feels like a fucking dinosaur.
When lead singer Tom Meighan sings Velociraptor! he’s going to find you, he’s going to kill you, he’s going to eat you” it has an almost Black Eyed Peas simplicity that sticks in your head for days. When you take that simple Black Eyed Peas formula and mix it with riffs that remind you of the best moments from Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine and the Butthole Surfers you have a simple and energetic rock song that’s catchy, fun and ferocious. For Christ’s sake Pizzorno rarrrs like a dinosaur. What’s not to love?
Velociraptor! truly has a bit of everything. Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter From The Storm) is clearly Pizzorno’s image of Led Zeppelin in the 21st century while I Hear Voices is another track with dark and personal lyrics. Where La Fee Verte had the feel of The Beatles, Voices sounds as if it was recorded on a 1980’s Casio keyboard and could easily be the best song Depeche Mode has recorded over the past twenty years.
Every successful record has that final single that carries a band through the final days of an 18-24 month worldwide attack. With its Mick Jagger meets ZZ Top beard swagger Re-wind is screaming for the opportunity to play closer for the Velociraptor! campaign. This song rocks the right power chords just hard enough to keep the pit going while giving E-tards a chance to spin to the delectable dance grooves.
Released as a teaser back in June, Switchblade Smiles features the heaviest grooves the band has produced since Club Foot. It is the perfect storm of pure chaos, primal urges and angelic harmonies. Pizzorno got exactly what he wished for when he told Xfm that he “wanted a song that sounded like the inner mechanism in a machine gun”.
Based off the reaction to this song when performed live this summer on the European festival circuit, its clear Switchblade Smiles will be around for the long haul. Rising from the ashes of the chaotic Switchblade Smiles, the acoustic meets ambient track Neon Noon leaves the listener with a euphoric glow as the album comes to a close.
What makes Kasabian stand out is exactly what prevents the group from stateside success. The band rocks too hard to appeal to the rave kids, yet their splashes of electronica strike fear into the hearts of rock radio programmers. With Velociraptor!, Kasabian has found a way to channel everything you love about The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and Radiohead while still keeping the unique sound that sets them apart from the contemporaries like Coldplay, Muse and The Killers. Kasabian has proven time and time again that they can write the hits and there is no doubt that songs like Days Are Forgotten, Velociraptor! and Re-wind will blow up the charts around the world. The only question that remains for Kasabian is will Velociraptor’s bite be big enough to get America’s attention?
Reviews published prior to February 23, 2015 used a 1-5 star rating system.