Kasabian

48:13

Written by: TL on 01/08/2014 18:44:52

Considering how overlooked it seems like Kasabian is compared to other brit-rock veterans in terms of coverage in these parts, I was somewhat puzzled to see them appear on Orange Stage of Roskilde Festival this year, instead of for instance Franz Ferdinand or White Lies, who guested in NorthSide instead and who both strike me as names with more presence here. Perhaps it was a question of relevance though, for while it had gone unnoticed with me before the concert, Kasabian actually put out their fifth full length this year, cheekily titled just "48:13" in flat reference to its length.

The band's show was a clue for me to catch up however, and I've since been assigning several spins to "48:13", on which Kasabian's vintage Brit-rock - which has stood out persistently with its knack for penetrating hooks, big, simple riffs and a psychedelic, trippy undercurrent - sees the latter of those three characteristic suddenly submerged in a universe of synths, ambiance and machinistic beats. The band has gone electronic on this one, but with enough touch of their own to still sound unmistakably Kasabian.

The resulting highlights appear in form of "stevie", "bow" and "explodes". The former is the obvious standout, with its irresistable chorus chiselling its words into your brain with sheer force of repetition: "All the kids they say: Live to fight another day. Live to fight again.". The others however, are tricky because their merits appear most clearly on the backdrop of the remaining record's questionable features. "explodes" for instance, offers perhaps the single best implementation of the new electronic elements in an eerie, dark atmosphere that sounds like the perfect soundtrack for crossing the Grid on a Lightcycle (yes I reference Tron eight out of ten times when I hear a synth, shoot me), but more or less skips out on offering anything interesting in terms of vocal melody. Conversely "bow" has probably the most affected and dynamic vocal performance of the record, which is clear in contrast with some of the "sharp crooning on autopilot" that singer Tom Meighan arguably delivers on other numbers.

Single choice "ee-zeh" is a clear example of the albums ambivalence, displaying the band's knack for catchyness via repetition with crystalline clarity, but also feeling like a silly and shallow caricature of a song with its bouncy and borderline annoying dance beat. It makes you wonder if the band is taking the piss? At the top of the tracklist "bumblebee" opens well after the dramatic intro of "(shiva)", yet regretably cops out in the chorus section with a lacklustre "Na-na-na" lyric with less than My Chemical Romance-esque effect. Meanwhile "glass" drones on a tad long before making it to a gimmicky albeit somewhat interesting guest rap, again making me doubt whether to like or dislike the song as a whole, and worst of all in this department is album highlight "treat", which lasts almost seven minutes without offering any more than the same tendency for repetition, and it's particularly baffling how pedestrian the development is in the bridge that largely makes up the long running time.

Aside from mostly uninspiring lyrics, a diagnose for the problem could be that Meighan's vocal performance feels disconnected from the instrumental backdrop the band has experimented their way to this time around. It often feels like multi-instrumentalist Sergio Pizzorno and Chris Edwards and Ian Matthews, on bass and drums respectively, have spent time crafting some fairly interesting electronic atmospheres, but the idea of weaving their ideas into a lyrical narratives or interesting vocal melodies seems dismissed in favour of just leaving it to Meighan to conduct business as usual after the instrumentals were done. The result is an album that sounds at the same time playful, yet disinterested and unambitious in execution, which consequentially makes it feel quite long during the stretches between its better moments. And with that in mind, one could suggest that it is unfortunate for the band to even draw attention to the length on this, an album that's hardly their best work to date.

Download: Stevie, bow, explodes,
For The Fans Of: The Horrors, Oasis, Blur, Kaiser Chiefs
Listen: facebook.com/kasabian

Release date 06.06.2014
Columbia / Sony

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