Throws intrigue and light invention in amongst the stadium choruses...
David Renshaw
01:11 8th June 2009

Kasabian are both hugely successful and widely derided. They are a byword for lairy louts and boys from provincial towns squeezing themselves into tight jeans and growing their hair long. However there is a school of thought that Kasabian are more than just the link between Happy Mondays and The Enemy and that they are in fact a wildly experimental and psychedelic outfit. Now as they release their third album, it’s time for them to play their hand and come out from behind those doors as the real Kasabian.

Too much time hanging out with Noel Gallagher can have a strange affect on a man and Kasabian’s empty bravado is certainly a bad habit picked up from the Mancunian gobshite. However, Oasis’s patronage has allowed Kasabian to grow into the band they are today. Supporting the band across the world has seen Kasabian’s songs grow to fit arenas. Still, that is the Kasabian we think we know, the strutting and cock-sure sing song merchants. What ‘West Riding Pauper Asylum’ does is develop their more experimental side- bringing it up alongside their brash exterior.

Question. Is it more commendable to experiment within the realms of a side project heavy group of musicians where change and evolution are the norm? Or to do it on an album released months before you play second to Bruce Springsteen on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury and when successful bands (Kaiser Chiefs, Franz Ferdinand) are struggling to shift third album units? Either way it's a brave move for Kasabian to record tracks like electronic and Krauty instrumental ‘Swarfiga’ or the Ennio Morricone influenced ‘West Rider Silver Bullet’ on a record being pumped out at your local HMV. It’s not all strange and new though- the bangers are still there for the inevitable crowd surge. Anyone with a TV will already know ‘Underdog’ and will instantly recognise it’s distorted riffs rubbing up against big beats courtesy of  producer Dan The Automator. Elsewhere there is the adrenalized ‘Fast Fuse’ and the groove-laden ‘Take Aim’, two of the bands danciest moments to date. Fans will also be acquainted with hit single ‘Fire’ and the irresistible ‘Vlad The Impaler’ which sees Pizzorno join the fray with his hooky refrain “Get loose, get loose.” One day Kasabian will release a truly excellent singles collection.

However it is not all good news. Amongst the impressive melodies and neat touches of flair is a band pushing themselves too far and hitting the inevitable hurdles. ‘Thick Of Thieves’ has one of the most ham-fisted structures heard in years and despite Meighan’s abundant confidence and charisma he still fails to carry it off. The Gallagher influence raises its mono-browed head again on ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, particularly on the line “wakey wakey rise and shine” with the last word elongated ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Star’ style. Finally a word for Serge Pizzorno re: vocals- you can’t really cut it and surrounding yourself by gospel choirs (‘Happiness) really isn’t going to do anything to stop people calling you a dodgy Primal Scream tribute act.

Give ‘West Rider...’ a chance - it’s not as snarling as their debut and not as pompous as their second. Throwing intrigue and light invention in amongst the stadium choruses make it possibly their most accomplished work to date.

More about: