RCA, Columbia 2011
Oasis was notorious for comparing themselves to the Beatles. This, of course, was utter nonsense. Yet Noel Gallagher could craft a top tune, younger brother Liam boasted a feral “rock star” presence and Lennon-like pipes. Together they captured the mid-90s Britpop zeitgeist.
Similarly, Leicestershire-raised Kasabian often suggest they rank near Oasis, with whom they used to tour. This surpasses nonsense to become self-directed cruelty. Really, you ought to feel sorry for Kasabian. Almost everything they’ve delivered since their third single — 2004’s raucous “Club Foot” — flickers with promise but in the end glows with disappointment. Lead singer Tom Meighan is no Liam, guitarist/songwriter Sergio Pizzorno is no Noel and their “mad fer it” stance is embarrassingly dated. In aping Oasis, Kasabian strikes out.
Let me be clear: I want to like Kasabian. But good God, they make it impossible. Take Velociraptor!, their fourth album and second with producer Dan the Automator. Instead of hitting their stride, they appear content to hit the “random” button and hope for something epic. The result is an epic mess. Opener “Let’s Roll Just Like We Used To” starts with sounds seemingly stolen from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and from there Velociraptor! tries to impress the listener with MOR melodies, faux attitude, “Eastern vibes,” cheesy synthesizers, druggy lyrics, and Beatle-lite choruses. Didn’t the Rolling Stones, do this with Their Satanic Majesties Request? Look how well that panned out.
But behold! Buried beneath the excess and absinthe shines one real gem. “Re-Wired” swaggers with a menace and funk straight from the 80s, and actually trumps “Club Foot.” Poignantly, this is the only song on Velociraptor! where Kasabian doesn’t try to mimic Oasis, let alone the “psychedelic” Stones. There is a lesson to be learned here. One can only hope Kasabian heed it in the future.
— Benjamin Smith