Review Summary: Empire may not be album of the year material, however it is a positive step for the band. They have found their element and learned to explore inside and outside of the box. This leaves a bright future for the band who has avoided a sophomore slump.
When Kasabian first came out they were known for thier loud music, catchy hooks, strident vocals, and (like most UK acts) being a bit cocky. But who could blame them? They had just released the debut album which had placed 4th in the UK charts and 94th in the US charts, toured with Oasis and Jet, and had their music in several movie trailers. Things have seemed to be going smoothly for the boys from Blaby.
Such is the case for the most recent album “Empire”. According to lead singer Tom Meighan, the word isn’t just another gimmick. Empire, in English slang, means the finest there is to offer. Luckily Kasabian has the swagger to match their confidence.
1. Empire. Empire is the first track on the album and happens to be the first single. It’s possibly the best track Kasabian has yet to record. It starts with a catchy bass line and hits in climax with the chorus,
I said it's happening again!
We're all wasting away!
We're all wasting away!”
The lyrics are the first thing that stood out to me when I first heard this song. There may be a few war referenced songs on this album but not enough to beat you over the head with a bias opinion. Empire is the beginning of a different type of Kasabian. And even though there is that same definite sound, the band seemed to have found their element on this album. (Possibly with the influence of Oasis while touring with them). 5/5
2. Shoot The Runner. "Shoot The Runner" is the second single from the album. This track is probably the best example of the boys from Blaby showing off their skills. Lyrics include,
“Shoot the runner, shoot, shoot the runner.
Am the king and she’s my queen, bitch!”
Kasabian fans will favor this track and be happy to see the band has yet to lose interest or grown weary as most bands do on their sophomore performance. 4.5/5
3. Last Trip in Flight. The next track has somewhat of a Velvet Underground feel to it. Unfortunately, its simple lyrics and upbeat tune isn’t enough to keep the pace that the first two tracks established. 3/5
4. Me Plus One. "Me Plus One” kicks the album in a different direction. Instead of lyrics about politics, war, or pride, the song is about a topic no band can go wrong in singing about--love. However one thing that is wrong with this track is the length, coming in at only 2:28. Still, it’s a feel-good song and a great tune at that. The song ends with a nice violin piece which contributes to the ever so growing list of instruments used for this album. 5/5
5. Sun Rise Light Flies. The next song has the feeling of just waking from the nice dream. I personally like the drums and violins on this track. They give the song its personality. Nothing too great about this song beside the fact that it is simple and keeps the feel-good theme of the album. 4/5
6. Apnoea. Apnoea is the next track and probably the most confusing track. It has a fast techno feel and makes it a chore to listen to after awhile. I kind of saw this coming when listening to the album. Fortunately, the song only lasts 1:47, though the album might have been better off without it. 2/5
7. Be My Side. This track starts with sort of a Muse feeling. The song stays the same for the most part. As lead singer Tom Meighan sings of armies and finding someone to stand by him, he is joined by smooth violins and more ambient sounds. The song probably runs a little too long and changes too much, but overall it’s a fine song. 3.5/5
8. Stuntman. The song has an unnecessary intro that lasts 1:20. However it has a catchy chorus and keeps the status quo. Maybe if it were shorter or had less techno beats, which by now has started to be repetitive, the song might have been better. 3.5/5
9. Seek and Destroy. After a long delay in the last track, the next song starts off right away. Tom’s voice is what gives this song its strength. I am sure by now you're wondering when the band will put the synthesizers and effects to the side and pick up a guitar and rock out… 4/5
10. British Legion. Though Kasabian doesn’t “rock out" on this song they do decide to pick up a guitar. This song goes to unfamiliar territory for the band. It’s an acoustic one for the first two minutes or so. In my opinion this song is the heart of the album. It’s not the best track nor is it the most popular, but it is the most memorable. 5/5
11. The Doberman. Kasabian couldn’t have chosen a better way to end the album. After feeling like you were lost somewhere between tracks 6 through 9, rediscovered in track 10, The Doberman, track 11, gives the feeling of redemption and possible new hope for the band. It starts with Tom singing backed up only by a simple guitar rift. Later Sergio Pizzorno joins him in the chorus. When I first heard this song it reminded me of “A Day in The Life” by the Beatles, when all the drums, trumpets and other internments collide. But instead of Paul singing about waking up one morning, The Doberman is greeted by epic Spanish trumpets that define the theme of the album cover. 5/5
Pros: Great tunes, original, kept the same “swagger” from the first album, improvement from the first album. Song writing has improved.
Cons: Some tracks carry on too long while others last too short, effects tend to get irritating as some tracks become a chore to listen to.