November 2, 2006

What London's Listening To

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Kasabian is another example of a band that every chap on the streets in England everywhere from London to Leeds to Liverpool knows about, but if you mention the name in America, people think you just sneezed. The band has just now released a new LP called Empire, which is a lot feistier than their first and has a lot more to say about politics, especially the status of British foreign affairs.
Kasabian is half Britpop-indie rock and half electronica, with two of the band members even being featured on a track of the electronica guru DJ Shadow’s album The Tiger. Where Empire differs from debut Kasabian is not necessarily in the unique sound of the music the four lads have created, but rather in the themes of the songs. Lead singer Tom Meighan tells us immediately what you’re dealing with. This song is an anthem, the chorus of “Stop!/ I said it’s happening again!/ We’re all wasting away!” being repeated over until it is tattooed into your memory. It’s not hard to tell that the song is about the war in Iraq, with lyrics like, “Tell me that you’ve seen a ghost/ I’ll tell you what to fear the most” and “Stitch your part of counterfeit/ I sent you out for hunting.” After it opens with ten seconds of an indecipherable British man speaking, a very simple guitar riff and drum beat reels you in. The song gets progressively layered with more and more synth, percussion, and guitar and even some strings and well-positioned clapping for good measure. Every lyric and every instrument seems perfectly positioned.
The band did experiment a bit with their sound, varying it without transforming it. “Me Plus One” sounds like a cross between Kasabian’s old sound and ’60s pop rock like Herman’s Hermits with its additions of xylophones interspersed with synth sounds. Kasabian undoubtedly did this with purpose, as the refrain’s repetition and words are reminiscent of this genre as well, “I want love, love, love/ I want love, love, love right now.” “Last Trip (In Flight)” is another example of the way that Kasabian can take music that might seem like esoteric electronica that us rockers are afraid of and make it great rock n’ roll. The prominent percussion adds to the angry tone of the album and the synth sound that they’re known for.
Kasabian has definitely stayed true to their sound while exploring ways to evolve musically and thematically, which is all anyone can ask for in a band’s follow-up album to a hit debut.