It seems like a long time since the release of West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum (although realistically only just over two years), and it’s been an impatient wait for myself and many other Kasabian fans. West Ryder seemed a bit too hit and miss as an album, with three or four standout tracks and a lot of disappointing filler material.
Velociraptor! solves the consistency problems this time around. While some fans may feel the album lacks the edge that makes Kasabian songs unique, all of the tracks on the album are at least solid, with a few real standouts. Certainly the style sounds a little more like a classic indie-rock album in parts, but it’s certainly nowhere near generic, as demonstrated with first single Switchblade Smiles providing the edge the album needs, through the throbbing electronics at it's heart.
Tom Meighan’s vocal work is near perfect as ever. His instantly recognisable tone dragging even the least exciting tracks on the album up to a higher standard; Goodbye Kiss being a perfect example, there aren’t many vocalists who could pull off what Meighan can with a track.
Days Are Forgotten is the second single from the album, and is probably the strongest track on first listen (with title track Velociraptor! also in contention). It’s another Kasabian classic that manages to last 5 minutes but leaves the listener thinking it’s not long enough. That’s the kind of knack Kasabian have for producing top quality singles.
The track Velociraptor! is probably the track that supplies most of the energy for the album in a just under three minute burst (Whilst the album is still exceptional, it does lack force in parts). Re-wired and Switchblade Smiles are also well placed to make sure the overall sound of the album doesn’t go flat. Neon Noon ends the LP fantastically well, it has elements of American classic rock ballads, The Beatles and a touch of synth which mould into a beautifully crafted song.
In terms of influence and variation, Kasabian draw from a refreshingly wide pool of sounds. The introduction to I Hear Voices wouldn’t sound out of place on a Crystal Castles record, and the resulting track is a fascinating blend of all that is Kasabian and all that hasn’t been until this point.
For many, this album will be a grower, but I have no doubt that any Kasabian fan should feel it is worthy of the bands prolific music making talents. While this album certainly doesn’t sound like the first amazing album Kasabian produced, it’s still a fantastic effort, and as a record is far better than West Ryder. The evolution of Kasabian’s sound is still positive, and it’s a real testament that they can give us something new on every record to keep the sound fresh and the listeners keen.
With this album to add to the live show, Kasabian are more than ever a must-see live band! Even if you don’t buy this album, (which you should) make sure to see them on stage, they haven’t been hailed by many as the best live act around for no reason.8/10
By Ewen Trafford