ou might not be aware of this, but at sporadic intervals a top-secret panel of music biz moguls and taste-makers meets in an equally top-secret location to draft a law deciding who everyone likes. Eighteen months ago, it was a legal requirement to like The Darkness. Last month, it was Franz Ferdinand. Right now, it’s The Law to like Kasabian. As I write, they sit atop Amazon.co.uk’s Hot 100, while they’ve just been nominated for a trio of Brit Awards. This album came out in Blighty last September, and is released in North America in March 2005. World domination might await—or they could merely be the new Oasis.
Some interesting facts about Kasabian: They come from a shockingly unglamorous city, Leicester, with a rubbish football team; they used to live on an isolated farm, where they wrote music and plotted their assault on the charts; like all the best bands, they have two charismatic frontmen—Tom and Serge—and a couple of boring blokes at the back; and they are single-handedly bringing back baggy.
In 2005, it’s easy to identify a Kasabian track because it sounds like it was recorded in 1990, the year when every record released in the UK had a shuffling baggy beat in the background, the kind found on the Stone Roses’ “Fools Gold” or Primal Scream’s “Loaded.” After baggy bombed, and all those Madchester types threw their flares away, the mere hint of that distinctive rhythm was enough to make small children point and laugh. Kasabian are the first band brave enough to bring it back. Which makes them a rock band you can dance to, the kind of band Franz Ferdinand claim to be. They’re a classic indie disco band.
The other reason Kasabian are so popular is that they’re laddish. Franz are popular but, let’s face it, they’re a bit fey and they sing about kissing men on the dancefloor, which is alright if you’re a metrosexual but not the kind of thing you want to be heard whistling while walking through town on a Friday night. Like Oasis, Kasabian are strictly hetero. Although that Serge bloke is quite pretty…
Approaching this album, I was skeptical. I was convinced it would be one of those albums with three good songs (the singles) and a load of filler. But it’s actually a solid, quality album with a smattering of great tunes and loads of shuffly beats that will make you lose control of your feet. The melodies are strong throughout and there’s a nice mix of guitars and synths, of rock and electronica. The lyrics are meaningless but fun—“like terrorists on a day of rest” scans well but is hardly profound. The lyrics sound like they were written after a couple of pleasurable hours on the PS2. They’re all about guerrilla warfare and drugs. No love songs here. That would be girly.
“Processed Beats” and “LSF” are great songs, driven along by that Funky Drummer beat, with Tom almost rapping over the top, and “Club Foot” and “Cutt Off” are cut from the same cloth. On “Reason is Treason”, they flirt with psychedelia, which results in the weakest track. Synths come to the fore on “ID” and “Ovary Stripe”, both atmospheric but a little insubstantial; these are the kind of songs they’ll ditch as they move on. Apart from the singles, the best song here is “Running Battle” (see what I mean about the militarism?) which has a lighter touch and an intriguing tune.
Like I said, this is a solid album. There’s no real genius in evidence here—no moments that make the hairs stand up on your arms or make you think you’re in the presence of greatness. Apart from Primal Scream, the band they most remind me of is Jet: a tight, hard-living rock’n’retro band who know how to play to the crowd and have no pretensions towards art. They just want to have a good time. Sometimes that’s exactly what you need.
Reviewed by: Mark Edwards
Reviewed on: 2005-01-19