s w a s t i k a e y e s.

machine music majesty

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Kasabian - Empire Preview.

The kings of Madchester revival have indeed returned, and they are more redolently grandiose than ever.

I got my hands on an advance copy of Empire today, and I think I'm warming to it. Chris Karloff's departure gave me fair warning that Tom Meighan & Co. were interested in pursuing ground he wasn't comfortable with. As a huge fan of their debut, this gave me cause for concern, but after hearing the new album, I have come to maintain that my fears were largely unfounded.

The album is impressive; it's not as immediately gripping as Kasabian, so don't be alarmed if you are not immediately engaged. Like Show Your Bones, this is a grower. Give it a chance, and the aural rewards will reap themselves.

The album flows with a decidedly [more extreme] retro vibe. I actually hear less Stone Roses here and more, say, 13th Floor Elevators. 60's psychedelic pop flourishes and frat rock swagger are on florid display here - "Me Plus One" and "Apnoea" appropriate cases in point. "Shoot The Runner" is a lovable glam romp: it's Happy Monday's playing in the T. Rex kiddie pool. "Empire" justifies the opulent grandeur of it's title; the valiant orchestrated rock and impossibly earnest shout of the chorus ["Stop! We're all wasting away!"] make for irresistable [vaguely] Stones-y fanfare. The Kraut-inflected "Stuntman" sounds like something Primal Scream might have done during their XTRMNTR phase, and it offers an interesting contrast to the other new tracks, while neatly skirting territory they already covered on their debut.

I would argue the new album doesn't languish with the druggy aftertaste of it's predecessor; it's more in the vein of a courser, hooligan-eyed British lad rock. The Gallaghers would probably be proud. It's kicky, yet ironically less immediate than their earlier layered works.
One song, in particular, however, shows undeniable potential for a possible future direction for the band, the majestic "Doberman". Should Kasabian ever decide to abandon the Madchester post-E trip aesthetic, they would do well to recall the successes of this particular composition. The trippy campfire chant builds to a truly remarkable crescendo: all mariachi horns and freaky strings amid the exotic cinematic splendor, it's a rare achievement that would make Muse blush.

Here are some stand-out tracks.
[Of course, trusting that you will buy the album when it comes out. I know I will.]

For sampling only: [mp3s active for only limited time only; will be removed upon request, naturally].

Kasabian - Shoot The Runner
Kasabian - Me Plus One
Kasabian - The Doberman