Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Asylum (Columbia) 08/06/09

June 5, 2009 by  

Kasabian, the great divider of the indie music buying population release their third, absurdly titled, album, West Ryder Pauper Asylum this week. Fans have already been given a taster thanks to a few Sony Bravia adverts and Tom?s and Serg?e prolific plugging of the record. Already it has divided opinion without it even being released yet. In some quarters, the word is kasabian are to release an album that will seem them elevate to dizzying stadium filling heights, where as others see this as the final nail in their lad rock coffin. It?s this lad rock tag that they have been refuting of late and believe WRPA will shake it off. A quick look at the cover and it?s clear they are taking themselves very seriously. With a dishevelled Tom dressed as beleaguered Napoleon and the rest dressed as other past tyrants, including Henry the VIII, there?s a pungent fragrance of a concept album in the air.

Opener ?Underdog? sets things up nicely. Serge has managed to discover yet more fuzzy sounds in his guitar, and teams them with an elegant riff that floats over a heavy processed beat. Within the first few bars Brit rock influences come flooding in, the baggy style is reminiscent of the Happy Mondays and the psychedelic lyrics ?live my life on a lullaby? could have easily been penned by an LSD crazed John Lennon.

The cracks begin to appear as early as second song ?Where did All the Love go?. Another typical bass heavy yarn from the lads, but with out any of the energy or craft of past hits such as ‘Club Foot’. The song remains flat throughout, lacking any distinctive elements and just shuffles along in a listless murmur, until the bizarre strings at the end transport you to a scene from Ali Baba and The Forty Thieves. The equally absurdly titled ‘Swarfiga’ is a welcome two minute instrumental slice of Krout rock. ?Fast Fuse? is, as you would expect, a fast and bass heavy tune. Kasabian, have never been known for their lyrical prowess and this song will only help to compound this, lines don?t come more generic than ? Oh baby I was born with a fast fuse, I?ve got no time to love?.

The rest of the album sees kasabian caught between their desire to experiment and the limits of their own creativity. The strange jive of ‘Take Aim’, doesn?t bode well with the heavy beats and the vocals seem to have been recorded at about four in the morning after a heavy binge. The Kinks-esque ‘Thick as Thieves’ sees them once again draw upon more British rock influences, and does help to displace the lad rock tag. Previous singles ‘Fire’ and ‘Vlad The Impaler’ show lots of promise, but a few listens in and their simplicity makes them incredibly dull.

WRPA seems to be a step too far for Kasabian. They are clearly a band struggling to find their own identity, and don?t want to simply inherit the Gallagher?s crown, but every great band needs to realise their limits.


By Chris Cummins