Kasabian - Velociraptor!
Record Label: RCA
Release Date: September 16, 2011
You can say what you like about Kasabian, and by all means do so, but their music has the intrinsic quality of being interesting. It doesnít matter if the band is waltzing their way through danceable rocky hits or concocting grandiose epics that hark to the Orient; Velociraptor! finds Kasabian weaving a web of intriguing music. Of course, an interesting song does not necessarily make a good song, but the album does have its fair share of crackers.
The best place to start when talking about Velociraptor! the album is with "Velociraptor!" the song. The song is tantamount to someone coming up behind you on a warm summerís day and rubbing a wet sponge in your face; it takes you by surprise, you have no idea whatís happening, but when itís over youíre kind of glad it did happen. And hey, the lyrics (Velociraptor/Heís gonna find ya/Heís gonna kill ya/Heís gonna eat ya) are relatable to anyone who knows someone bears resemblance to, or indeed is, a velociraptor. Its upbeat nature and catchy melodies are hard to resist, and the ridiculous lyrics only further assist its endearing quality.
There really are some veritable gems offered up by the British rockers here. "Days Are Forgotten" opens with a funky riff and wailing backing vocals, and features the kind of chorus that builds stadiums. This downbeat anthem is followed by the surprisingly tender "Goodbye Kiss". This number finds vocalist Tom Meighan able to carry this low-octane wistful pop song with aplomb. Meighan does not take the lead vocal reins on every song, with guitarist and lyricist Sergio Pizzorno stepping up to the plate three times. One such time is "La Fee Verte", (Google Translate reliably informs me that this can be interpreted as ĎThe Green Fairyí) which takes some time to get going but does have its moments.
Some bands undeniably have comfort zones that they fear to stray out of. If Kasabian have a comfort zone, and you could argue that theyíd laugh in the face of that idea, then there is evidently no fear to take big strides out of it. "Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter from the Storm)" is most definitely an interesting song, Iíll give it that. This 6-minute musical journey introduces itself with ominous strings that could act as a precursor to an epic battle scene. But instead they give way to indecipherable eerie wailing; a disappointment to say the least, as itís more reminiscent of a catfight than a battle. The song does take on a more conventional shape, albeit temporarily, before it relapses into experimental vocal interplay and musicianship. Ultimately, the boundaries of quirkiness are pushed too far, and canít be saved by a good chorus. Furthermore, its position right in the centre of the track listing does disrupt the flow of Velociraptor!.
Instrumentally Kasabian are not afraid to move beyond the standard guitar-bass-drums combo, with the aforementioned strings prominent in "Acid Turkish Bath" and offering graceful support in "Goodbye Kiss". Synthesizers are also brought to the party, but are most prevalent in some of the weakest cuts of the album. Is that a coincidence? Possibly. But the synth-driven "I Hear Voices" is awfully bland and the much-hyped "Switchblade Smiles" is a disappointment, the electronically-focused track failing to make the same mark as the rockier tunes like "Days Are Forgotten" and "Letís Roll Just Like We Used To". Another song that does make a mark is "Rewired", with a chorus that guarantees mass sing-alongs.
So Velociraptor! has some excellent songs (such as "Goodbye Kiss") and some good songs ("Man of Simple Pleasures"), some baffling songs (obviously "Acid Turkish Bath") and some forgettable songs ("I Hear Voices"). It just seems to lack a spark, a quality that gives it an edge that warrants consistent repeat listens. Itís a mixed bag, but thereís definitely something in that bag for everyone.