Kasabian - Empire
Reviewed by Ben on 28th August 2006
2004 was the year of the resurrection, fans of Leicester indietronica (it's a buzz-word now!) rock outfit Kasabian would tell you. Not only did they score four top twenty singles and a top five album here in the UK, but they had success in the United States as well. Their tracks L.S.F and Club Foot adopted for video game soundtracks as well as having material surface in American media; L.S.F featured in the appalling movie Stealth, while songs crept up in teen based soap opera such as Smallville and the immensely popular The O.C.
Then came along the comparisons to other indie bands. Might I add much bigger acts synonymous for kick-starting different trends in the British music scene? Whether it was the popular tag of "The Next Stone Roses" or even journalists drawing comparisons between lead singer Tom Meighan and Oasis, there was no surprises then that there was a lot of expectation weighing on their shoulders.
2006 proved to be somewhat of a Curate's egg for the band - they achieved a top ten single again with Empire, while their appeal across the Atlantic got boosted thanks to Sergio Pizzorno and Christopher Karloff working with turntablism superstar DJ Shadow on his new album. However, they lost what could be a pivotal part of the group - Karloff, hugely talented as a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, left the band citing "artistic and creative" differences.
Sad to say, perhaps that would explain a lot regarding Kasabian's latest release...
Empire tries it's best to push their sound forward, and you can't deny a band the opportunity to try and evolve their work. The problem is what once made Kasabian a very popular, dare I say it, and edgy band has been ejected almost in its entirety. It was the dirty, almost chav-like dance grooves that got people interested in the band - that fuse of electronica meeting indie that excited dance and indie fans alike, much in the same vein as what The Stone Roses did years before with their first album.
Starting off with their first single, Empire and rolling into Shoot The Runner, the latter very much encapsulates those comparisons to Oasis; it sounds like a T-Rex song with no thinking behind the lyrics. Which is saying something seeing as the first album was renowned for it's lyricism. There is a dimension missing to their music now - there are bands in the music industry now who were influenced by Kasabian, yet sound miles better than this effort. It's as if the band lazily came back together after finding fame in other avenues, and thought they could ride the crest of their previous success.
I will give credit where credit is due - Seek and Destroy is one of the rarer moments on the album - as in it's a good track which holds true to Kasabian's previous musical efforts. However, if you were a fan of the band, I wouldn't blame you for feeling alienated. I finished listening to Empire and then put on their debut effort, amazed how in the space of two years a band could totally revamp most of their style - for the worse.
Kasabian very much like themselves to The Stone Roses, and the fact both the bands have sophomore efforts not nearly half the class as their predecessors shows how close Kasabian hold that fact. The fact is though The Stone Roses took over six years to butcher their legacy - Kasabian only needed two.
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