Review Summary: Gearing more for the huge summer festivals rather than assembling a proper record.
Kasabian are living in a world of their own. Helmed by wacky mastermind Sergio Pizzorno, these guys have always stubbornly followed all their visions without taking any advice or constructive criticism. Not even the biggest failure could ever make them have second thoughts regarding the direction followed. Obviously, this cocky attitude has some inevitable ups and downs: they have churned some truly infectious music with an instantly recognizable sound along the years, however, failed just as many times to live up to the self-imposed hype as one of the last purveyors of rock or dance music and everything in between. The admirable thing is with each record, the band made efforts to switch from a singles act and create a more cohesive experience. Their previous full length, Velociraptor!
had finally hinted to work as a singular unit, consistent enough to at least capture your attention for a full spin if not many more (yes, I admit I really dig it). So if these gurus have learned anything from themselves, 48:13
should be a step forward in their musical journey.
Unfortunately, Pizzorno & the gang felt things became too complicated and decided to strip their latest effort layer by layer being influenced by Kanye West's Yeezus
(somehow it doesn't surprise me that Kasabian found inspiration in that album). As a result, this effort ends up quite faceless (the cover/title don't help at all either). Musically speaking, 48:13
isn't a radical departure, it is only a tad more electronic like their debut was. Half of the time it soars just like any other thing released before, sometimes even reaching for bigger heights, yet it feels disjointed. Of course it has its share of cool, catchy tunes, but the bare bones structures leave little for you to explore past a few listens. The first two tracks 'Bumblebee' and 'Stevie', show how much the band has been preparing for the big summer festivals (most notably headlining Glastonbury in a few weeks). Both feature that huge, anthemic sound meant to sweep everyone off their feet. The former is a loud rocker full of swag that reminisces the eponymous record, while the latter boasts some daunting strings and an empowering chorus. They work really well since vocal Tom Meighan does a pretty good job engaging the listeners. The interludes bookending these two cuts are pretty pointless sound-wise, however, they might unofficially separate the record in three parts.
The mid-part is quite hit and miss, the most notable tune being the 7-minute epic, 'Treat'. More laid back in nature, it relies heavily on the repeated chorus and a sustained rhythm, before the hypnotizing second half starts to unfold. Perhaps this slightly (don't imagine anything revelatory or super complex) progressive electronic segment was supposed to be the original foundation to 48:13
. Unfortunately, Pizzorno abandoned it for more immediate ideas. Also, the ironically titled 'Explodes' is an interesting, low-key dirge featuring some atonal samples and demented synths. Finally taking off in the last minute, it reminds of the crazy moments of West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
, thus feeling somewhat out of place here.
The final segment introduced by '(Levitation)', a short Eastern psychedelic outing that should've been placed on Velociraptor!
, reveals 'Clouds', a 60s revival tune Ã* la Brian Jonestown Massacre before segueing into the dancefloor-ready first single, 'Eez-eh'. Although the lyrics are at times cringe worthy (an issue that still plagues the band), it is a dumb, fun track that grows on you with each listen. Then, just when you are ready to give up any hope, here comes the obligatory ballad closer, 'S.P.S' that surprisingly feels the most humble one these guys have recorded yet. The lap steel touches, gentle guitar strums and faint vocals that echo Primal Scream's frontman Bobbie Gillespie's wasted croon, create a really nice, intimate atmosphere before slowly fading away. Even so, you're left with only some bits and pieces of tunes stuck in your head with no urge to press replay the next second.
While there's little substance to be found on 48:13
, it can either turn you off from the beginning or get under your skin, making for a harmless listen where you occasionally bang your head to the catchy highlights. There's nothing new as Kasabian have always provoked such bipolar reactions, but right now they seem to have flown too far off the orbit for anyone/anything to bring them down to the ground. Sadly, they have geared more for the huge summer gigs than for a full length effort. Even adding a proper cover, title and ditching the interludes would have helped, because these guys work better when they set their minds on a certain idea or direction, no matter how absurd or transparent it is (not having one doesn't count).