While trying to come up with a new poll question for Slant’s music section the other day, someone jokingly suggested, “What part of a song do you like better, the verse or the chorus?” We laughed. Like many Britpop bands before them, Kasabian prefers choruses, and they like them big. The Leicester, England foursome possess the messianic self-import of Oasis (“We’re a wake-up call to British music,” they say, or if you prefer metaphor, “The serpent’s going to rise from the sea and scare all the pirates away!”), but they also possess that band’s venerable devotion to the hook. Songs like “Reason Is Treason” and the exhilarating “Running Battle” are all chorus, perhaps overcompensation for the fact that this is a band that likes to dabble, splice, and cut and paste (literally and figuratively—“kasabian” means “butcher” in Armenian and it also happens to be the name of Charles Manson’s pregnant getaway driver). Kasabian’s influences range from Primal Scream and the Stone Roses to film composer Ennio Morricone and Brian Eno, and the latter’s influence is all over less hook-oriented fare like the expansive “I.D.,” which contains no chorus at all, and “Ovary Stripe.” Lead singer Tom Meighan’s voice is just acerbic enough to command songs like “Club Foot” and “Processed Beats,” which pile towering U2
Pop-era synths, guitar riffs, and, uh, processed beats one on top of the next, while chief lyricist Sergio Pizzorno takes to the recording booth on slightly less aggressive tracks like “Test Transmission” and “U Boat” (Meighan is Dave Gahan to Pizzorno’s Martin Gore). Unfortunately, Kasabian’s self-titled debut doesn’t live up to the hype surrounding it—there’s a lot of seemingly topical talk about war, terrorists, and selling arms that basically amounts to nothing, as well as lots of drug references, no doubt harking back to their U.K. Hardcore days. I liked Kasabian better before I read their “manifesto” (“Join the movement to become an individual!”)—hell, before I even knew they had one.