Kasabian – 48:13 – Album Review

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Ever since their self titled debut album dropped a decade ago, Kasabian’s Stone Roses by way of Oasis arrogance and swagger has been in rude health. They haven’t abandoned their gobby opinions in exchange for a sprinkling of humility and reality this time around either. Just in the last couple of weeks, Kasabaian guitarist and song writer Serge Pizzorno has audaciously and, to be fair, ludicrously told the Evening Standard that Kasabian are, “one of the last rock ‘n’ roll bands around”. On a roll, he continued by claiming he wanted to inspire a new generation of musicians with this “forward thinking” record. The Evening Standard weren’t the only ones subjected to this hyperbole as Serge compared his band of miscreants to genuine innovators Beck, The Beastie Boys and Radiohead in an interview with the Daily Record.

You’ve got to applaud the guy really. He is remarkably adept at mustering up publicity and evidently subscribes to the axiom that all publicity is good publicity. However, with this type of hyperbolic rhetoric, Kasabian really need to deliver an album that amazes, confounds and breaks down barriers in equivalent measure.  Unfortunately, OK Computer this new offering is not. Hell, it’s not even Pablo Honey. As Shakespeare wrote in Henry V, “The empty vessel makes the loudest sound.”

What Kasabian have done, is to simply make the dance influences on their blustering club rock more overt by clumsily layering electronics over the top of their new music or by replacing guitar riffs  with dodgy electronica. This is most evident on “Explodes”, which has merely replaced their typical bass heavy riffing with a jittery synth and excessive bleeps and bloops. What’s more, first single, “Eez-eh”, comes off like a dodgy remix of “Club Foot” from their debut album rather than the “working class anthem”, that singer and lyricist Tom Meighan was aiming for. Speaking of lyrics, it is difficult to take claims of experimentation and innovation in earnest when simultaneously cringing at sophomoric couplets like, “The wrong men have the power, it’s turning my milk sour”, and “I’d hate for you to be alone, let’s play scissors, paper, stone”.

As much as they claim to be inimitable and pioneering, Kasabian can’t avoid allowing their tendencies toward tedium seep through as with “Stevie”, where the opening strings resonant like a vaguely more aggressive and less jolly variation on Coldplay’s “Viva La Vida.” When you find yourself aping Coldplay, rest assured you are not at the cutting edge of anything. Then there’s the iffy electro-ska of “Doomsday”.  Perhaps someone should take the boys to one side and let them know that ska isn’t precisely at the zeitgeist of modernism. This is simply not a giant leap forward.

Having said all this, perhaps it is unfair to judge Kasabian to such high standards despite their hyperbolic utterings. Those of us with some sense of reality are well aware that Kasabian are not about to unleash a Loveless, a Sgt. Peppers or a Daydream Nation any time soon. Perhaps if they weren’t so undeservingly arrogant and deluded, then their brand of bloke rock wouldn’t be as nearly offensive. At any rate, 48:13 does pretty much exactly what you would expect. On “Doomsday”, Meighan warbles,”What you see is what you get from me”. Indeed.

48:13 is released on 6th June via Columbia Records.