The lads from Leicester are back with their latest psychedelic rock offering, the abstractedly titled 48:13 (i.e. the overall running time of the album). Known for their thumping, rock-opera live performances, Kasabian have never been short of self-assurance musically, and this Alice in Wonderland-esque soundscape is certainly a bold reminder. The fifth studio album has taken a very different direction to its predecessors, and is a far cry from the epic, Rule Britannia anthems of Empire (2006) and the growling, symphonic rock of 2011’s Velociraptor!
It’s an experimental record, intercut with three instrumental interludes where the often overlooked rhythm section Chris Edwards and Ian Matthews (bass and drums, respectively) get a chance to flex their creative and musical muscles. Tom Meighan’s distinctively faraway, static-laden vocals and writer/producer Sergio Pizzorno’s distorted, pedal-heavy riffs are still a feature, and this time weave throughout a thoroughly enjoyable, albeit inconsistent sounding album.
It opens with ‘(Shiva)’, the first of the interludes. It’s a little oriental, in that it imitates a sitar sound reminiscent of Ravi Shankar. There’s a lot of yelling and mantra calling in ‘Bumblebeee’ – a typically Kasabian, foot-stomping rock romp. Meighan echoes over the layered effects, channelling the likes of previous hit ‘Fire’. His voice is somewhat reminding of Alex Turner in its clearer moments; with a more masculine, accentuated accent.
The lyrics of ‘Stevie’; “all the kids they say, live to fight another day”, bears a striking resemblance to Leeds lads The Kaiser Chief’s 2008 single ‘Never Miss A Beat’ and ‘Another Brick In The Wall’ with its kiddie revolution themes. There’s a building, cinematic climax, with emotive backing vocals and guitar peaking in the closing minutes. A Spaghetti-Western themed ditty leads into the livelier ‘Doomsday’ where a groovy bass line and an ever-changing riff keeps you on your toes. There’s a brooding, cartoon theme song, ambient musings, eerie droning harmonies and unexpected rapping from spoken word artist Suli Breaks.
‘Explodes’ is an irritatingly repetitive disco-techno track, with Meighan’s flat vocals whinging “on and on it goes ’til my head explodes”, which is a very apt line as the song omits a similar feeling. ‘Eez-Eh’ is the first, and most exciting single off the album. A psychedelic dance track, this pounding party number is very different from most Kasabian rock songs, but is still addictive and adaptable. Enjoyably tongue-in-cheek, Meighan chants “we’re being watched by Google” throughout.
‘Bow’ is a teen-angst rock ballad in the style of soft-rock band Simple Plan (remember them?), with its Romeo + Juliet style love story. The closing track is a cooing, acoustic finale. It’s a little bit country, and a little bit of an odd way to end the album. Sure, the lyrics are a wrap-up, but the style is completely different to the rest of the album – a musical detour. The song is fine as a stand-alone, but as a finale, it’s pretty anti-climatic.
Overall, this bombastic foursome are once again flying the flag for self-indulgent, boundary-pushing rock. 48:13 is begging for a stadium setting, with its chant-centric choruses and loud, fuzzy bar chords. It’s all mosh-pit mantras for the British band now, who despite a lack of lead solos and lyrical depth, manage to entertain with their multifaceted, musical maturity. It’s a cacophony of sounds, but an entertaining one nonetheless.