Monday, 24 September 2007

Empire - Kasabian

In the second of an unintentional series of 'unexpected second albums from the class of 2005', we have Empire by Kasabian. It is not the vast improvement suggested in some quarters, but it does definitely buck the trend of dodgy second albums by improving on their patchy, if atmospheric debut.

The real shock here is the feel of the album; their first was four or five bass/beat heavy, post-Stalinist singles that were great for striding aggressively to, pinned together with synth heavy pieces that were eerie more than anything else. Their second is crammed with potential singles, many with a disconcerting Summer of Love flavour (try not to smile at the entrance of Indian strings towards the end of "Me Plus One"). "Empire" and "Shoot The Runner" lead the album and singles and are good pop songs, each with a genuinely interesting breakdown in the middle and some nice glam guitar from Sergio Pizzorno, who takes the brunt of the songwriting for the first time here.

Its not all hits. "Apnoea", a deliberately out-of-place beat-heavy dance charge is completely misjudged, and "By My Side" sounds like a rejected track from their first album. It contrasts with the similar but exhilarating "Stuntman", in which Tom Meighan's vocals adopt an Ian Brown-esque whisper and float over the synths and beats.

The album climaxes with out-and-out prog anthem "The Doberman". Its terrific stuff, moving from a quite, poetic verse to a thundering chorus and a neat little breakdown similar to the album's opener. It feels epic, even more so than early singles such as "L.S.F.", and it gives the album that which was lacking on their debut: a reason to listen right to the end.


Ellen said...

"Post-stalinist single"?? Wtf is that supposed to mean?

CQ said...

Well, the video for Club Foot is dedicated to Jan Palach, a Czech student who committed suicide in the 60s as a protest against Soviet interference in Prague. Also there are several references to cold war Russia in the album, including the last song "U Boat".

Ellen said...

WELL, wikipedia says that the Post-Stalinist period was a time when "there was a new sense of optimism in the Soviet Union with a brief flowering of a more liberal, open culture." Give me an example of THAT!

CQ said...

Okay so I meant neo-Stalinism. Foiled by Wikipedia once again.