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Leicester crew reaffirm their standing as Britain’s most interesting and ambitious stadium rockers.
Ed Power, 13 Sep 2011
Of all the lazy, inaccurate ideas people have about Kasabian, the most absurd is that they are spiritual heirs to Oasis. For sure, singer Tom Meighan has a distinctly Gallagher-esque swagger and both acts are blessed/cursed with a lager-spewing football hooligan fan-base. Musically, however, they inhabit completely different realities. Where Oasis’ songbook was comprised of the reheated dribblings of the Stones, Beatles, Kinks et al, Kasabian’s offers tinges of outsider weirdness, something their pint-tossing following has never been able to completely obscure.
Still, it wasn’t until 2009’s concept-heavy West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum that the English east-midlanders really got the message out there. A rumination on the relationship between art and madness, the record confirmed what should have been perfectly obvious all along if only we’d been listening properly – far from another bunch of dreary Britrockers, Kasabian were in the lairy British tradition of dance/rock fusionists, a movement that goes at least as far back as Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and Primal Scream. Genuinely ambitious, West Ryder stomped from psychedelia to big-beat to ‘70s classic rock (as well as delivering a chilling foreshadowing of the London riots in ‘Where Did All The Love Go’) and was duly nominated for a Mercury, an honour that appeared only to deepen the enmity of the haters.
Two years on, with most of the band the far side of 30 and new parents, Meighan and song-writing wing-man Serge Pizzorno return with a teary glimmer in their eyes. Having essentially conquered the world last time, they are in a mood for reflection, as demonstrated by melancholic opener ‘Let’s Roll Like We Used To’ (the title is the closest the record comes to an Oasis moment). It’s an affecting contemplation of their childhood years in Leicester – or at least that’s the case until halfway through when the song erupts into a plugged-in monster with a riff nabbed from Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’. Rocking sensitively is a delicate art. Done incorrectly there’s a danger of things going all Stereophonics. But Kasabian know they’re up there on a tightrope and their balance never wavers.