The Manchester scene, its free-flowing drugs and party lifestyle has all but disappeared since the Stone Roses’ second album, but there is one band that could forcefully bring it all back, and they’re not even from Manchester. The four members of Kasabian are centered in Leicester, holed up in a commune-like barn, creating a musical revolution the likes of which we haven’t seen in some time. It has been said that while the Sex Pistols, who basically started the punk ball rolling in England (and thus everything else if you’ve seen 24 Hour Party People), are nihilistic and represent anarchy, and the Clash are idealistic and represent protest, then Kasabian, not to offend anyone, represent hedonism and musical terrorism. Make no mistake, Kasabian are coming to America to grab you by the balls and force you to dance.
Kasabian has already taken their own home country, garnering not only hordes of fans, but also wooing fellow musicians such as Liam Gallagher, Robert Plant, Mick Jones, Roger Daltrey, and Pete Townshend. They may be new to us here in the States, but in the U.K., Kasabian has already released five singles. One of their singles, “Club Foot” begins the album with a bang, singer Tom Meighan shouting lyrics, barely catching his breath, and shouting again, a la one of his fans, the aforementioned Liam. Some will notice the chorus’ similarity to U2’s “Discotheque,” while others won’t be able to avoid the Happy Mondays comparisons. Either way, the song takes control of you, with its rock guitars combined with dance beats, new wave basslines, and new romantic keyboards. “Processed Beats” continues the party with another single release. Think Stone Roses meets Primal Scream and you might come close. Maybe some Soup Dragons?
“Reason is Treason” is the next track, yet another single release, and a reprise of the song also ends the album. The song is just one example of Kasabian’s political paranoia, with the subject of the song taken away for (deprogramming? reprogramming? execution?). The rest of the band shouting “K-I-LL” is not necessarily creepy, rather more rally shout that is sure to become the highlight of dance club nights everywhere. Kasabian are all about swagger. They brag, boast, and named themselves after Linda Kasabian, Charles Manson’s pregnant getaway driver. They’re like Shaun Ryder with a political agenda, or Liam Gallagher with a joint and some E.
“LSF (Lost Souls Forever)” is a huge throwback to the height of the Madchester scene, bringing to mind the Farm, Primal Scream, the Stone Roses, and the Charlatans all in their heyday. The fifth and most recent single is one of my favorites. “Cutt Off” sounds like a mix between a caper movie song (something by David Holmes for Ocean’s 15 or the latest Guy Ritchie film), Jonny Greenwood’s guitars, and Shaun Ryder’s stoned vocals. Aside from the big singles, the rest of Kasabian’s debut album is solid, but not necessarily as action-packed. This is definitely a UK singles band, relying heavily on the popularity of particular songs as dance tracks. Sure, they’re some of the best singles to come out in a while, but since the US has more of an album-oriented business, relying mostly on press and word of mouth, single success is not much of a factor.
Instrumental tracks dot the landscape of the album, again sounding like something from David Holmes as opposed to one of their admitted influences, DJ Shadow. Whereas Shadow has depth and emotion to his songs, Kasabian’s are merely veneer, a façade that shows nothing but danceable fun, not that I think anything’s wrong with that. The shaggy haired members of Kasabian are a contradiction. They want to party, but also to be taken seriously. While they slag American garage bands, their fans slag British bands such as Keane and Coldplay. They seem to have an opinion on everything and care about nothing. Is it all just image? I would hope so, because with Kasabian’s debut album as good as it is, I would hate to think that it was all for show, they actually have nothing left, and there is nothing behind the curtain. With their first American tour currently in progress, it’s time for them to put everything on the table. After being quoted in NME as saying, “Fuck the Americans,” I’m hoping for something better than an act.
Happy Mondays- Pills, Thrills, and Bellyaches
The Stone Roses- Second Coming
Primal Scream- XTRMNTR