You could liken Clash’s relationship with Kasabian’s music to the plot of James Cameron’s Titanic. At first, there was joyous dancing. By album two, we felt exploited. By three, we’d hit the iceberg. By four, we were clinging on for dear life. And now, on album five, is our affair with the band literally dead in the water?
‘48:13’ opens with ‘Shiva’: an ambient minute of uneasy sound bathing which could be a learned nod to the oft-referenced three-eyed, snake-wearing Hindu deity. However, based on Serge Pizzorno’s recent interview insistence that this album summons “the spirit of a Midlands rave”, we reckon it alludes to the short-lived Huddersfield dance band Shiva, whose hit ‘Freedom’ we don’t still hear for a reason.
We know that Kasabian cited stuff like 1960s NY psych group Silver Apples as inspirations for ‘48:13’, but their interpretation discards the sharp edges and jarring modalities of such underground philosophies, leaving behind only a throbbing beat foundation for semi-reference.
By sanding down all that oscillating experimentation down to a pop-friendly, baggy-varnished Ikea pine frame, tracks like ‘Eez-Eh’ (below) and ‘Treat’ end up sounding more like the streamlined and forgettable ’00s dance punk of bands like Gossip or The Music, rather than any sort of revisionist’s vision of an underground ’90s sound.
Lyrics wise, we’re in a period where musicians love referencing the Orwellian atmosphere of our information age. Some do it well (St Vincent’s ‘Digital Witness’) and some do it okay (Damon Albarn’s ‘Everyday Robots’). Unfortunately, with lines like “Everyday is brutal / Now we’re being watched by Google,” Kasabian’s attempt is meaninglessly vague, pseudo-intellectual garbage masquerading as everyman social commentary.
This album might satiate the seasoned Kasabian fan, but for anyone else it just comes across as the dated output of false prophets. With maximum attitude but minimum threat, they present themselves with the empty aggressive gestures of sheep in decidedly wolfish clothing.
Words: Joe Zadeh
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