When Kasabian claim they have made the first classic album for ‘15 or 16 years’, you take it with a pinch of salt. That is the reputation they have created for themselves, honest lads with a swagger to challenge Oasis. Musically, they are nothing like Oasis, their sound is far too eclectic for that; using electro beats, gritty synth, strings and middle–eastern instruments. Their last album, 2009’s ‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’ was as big as the name, full of epic beats and sing-along choruses. ‘Velociraptor!’ takes a more experimental approach, whilst still, as the name suggests, containing their aggression and attitude.
The album starts with a gong, ushering in ‘Let’s Roll Like We Used To’, an immediate departure from their trademark sound. Very retro, it echoes Love’s haunting masterpiece ‘Forever Changes’ in it’s sound, rolling drums, a lush sounding string melody, keyboards and handclaps combining to create an engaging and intriguing start. To follow this with first single proper ‘Days Are Forgotten’ is slightly underwhelming, it’s vintage Kasabian but it’s not one of their best and lacks the depth of the previous track. ‘Goodbye Kiss’ sees Kasabian sounding heartfelt. Filled with strings, ‘la la la’s’ and acoustic guitars and essentially sounding like The Verve, it is an impressive and unashamed pop song.
Kasabian’s lyrics are strangely evocative at the best of times, but ‘La Fee Verte’ is a cringe worthy attempt at Sgt Pepper era Beatles, ‘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’. A catchy chorus rescues it. ‘Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter From The Storm)’ is a much more valid attempt at psychadelia, Middle-Eastern strings contributing to an epic intro that morphs into a broken down guitar track, whilst Tom Meighan’s wailing vocals work well.
Title track ‘Velociraptor!’ and ‘Re-Wired’ are the two classic Kasabian tracks on the record, full of attitude and sing-along hooks that festival crowds will be bouncing to next summer. Meighan’s vocals are again flawless as he squares up to the listener claiming ‘There’s nothing to it, there’s nothing to it man’ on ‘Velociraptor!’ ‘Who made you the master’ he asks on ‘Re-Wired’ which contains the same distorted garage-rock guitar that they made their name with on the first two records, both tracks are on par with their best work. Surprisingly, ‘Switchblade Smiles’ got the video and promotional release back in June, but is nowhere near the level of these two.
The electro-pop, Kraftwerk influenced ‘I Hear Voices’ is also excellent, the drum-pads and piano synth might not fit in with the rest of the album but as a stand-alone track it really compliments their sound. Spaced out closer ‘Neon Noon’ has a similar tone to it, but doesn’t really go anywhere.
Calling your own album a classic is asking for it to be scrutinised and knocked, but although this is not the classic album Serge claims it is, it is a fine record. It doesn’t sound focused enough as a collection of songs to be a classic album, but there is no shame in that. Four albums deep and the band are still exploring new sounds and growing, and deserve great credit for doing so.