Kasabian: Empire
Kasabian - Empire - [Sony/BMG]


It takes about half a minute into Kasabian's documentary (found in their new cd\dvd release) to grasp the megalomania the band is shrouded in. The same attitude that worked so well for Oasis, and lots of other Brit-pop artists actually, is now working quite well for Kasabian. Well, their debut album was successful enough to get them there, also common in the Brit-pop tradition.

With a rough approach, the press comparing them to Primal Scream for their blend of electronic with indie rock, Kasabian releases their second album "Empire".
"Empire" is slang for something that is "great, brilliant", says frontman Tom Meighan, explaining their choice of name for the first track on the album, and the albums name. Megalomaniac is the key word.
It's been a while since the new kids on the England bloc were really wild, careless and everything that is rock n' roll. This makes Kasabian an attraction for the press, the fans, and brightens them from the current English stream of conformist bands.

Kasabian's arrogance automatically sets high expectations from "Empire", their new release, hoping that unlike the last two Oasis albums it will be worth their big mouth. You can easily attach bands like Primal scream, DJ Shadow in the electronic aspect, Oasis and The Stone Roses in the rugged singing style. The vintage-like sound actually reminds the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club debut album (especially their "Spread your love" sound). And you can even find the Beatles psychedelic vocal impact in songs like "Sun rise, light flies".

As you can guess from the list of influencing artists, the album is as much of a Rock'n'Roll star as it gets - rugged, and holds a few blown-up, pompous moments which make it all much more impressive for sure.
As mentioned before, "Sun rise, light flies" has the psychedelic Beatles vocal harmonies of their late-sixties era. "Shoot the runner" gets very David Bowie with the hook line "I'm the king and she's my queenbitch". "Me plus one" could easily count as a variation of Oasis covering the Beatles. "By my side" is dirty rock with great melodies, while "The Doberman", the closing track, starts of intimate and closes with bombastic trumpets and saxophones.

During the recording of "Empire", Christopher Karloff, one of the band's chief songwriters, left the band due to artistic differences. Before he left, he co-wrote the explosive theme track "Empire", brining on the news of anti-war in a declaring rock song with big arrangements, straightforward approach and untypical rhythm changes.

Kasabian's strength and weakness lies in the same motive; on one hand they have lots of musical influence - which is motivating, and really shows variety; on the other hand, it's visible enough to reduce some credit points for lack of originality (screaming "Love, love, love" on "Me plus one" for example), too much information on one album, which mostly tires the listener. They have released a great rock album, but I would be a bit more careful about haughtiness, in fear of ending up like another band once compared to the Beatles.

Roy Povarchik

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