Album Reviews

Kasabian – Empire

(Columbia) UK release date: 28 August 2006

Kasabian - Empire The walk and the talk. We are fascinated by them. We love it when a band can do both, we deride those who can do the former but not the latter, and we’re left nonplussed on those rare occasions when people seem, somehow, to be able to walk the walk without talking the talk.

Actually, no. Let’s face it, when bands are born, it almost makes more sense for them to concentrate on the whole mouthing-off before anything else gets done. First album a bit shit? So what, be mean about Bloc Party in a national newspaper. Lack of musical direction? No problem, simply mock Julian Casablancas‘ expensive schooling on national TV.

There is absolutely no doubt, Kasabian have the talk. They’ve also proven they can twist Geography with the best of them (Leicester? North? Since when?), and they’ve quite convincingly put themselves forward, a proposal which has since been Gallagher countersigned, as the new ‘band of the people’ – which we think has something to do with gigs in fields, copious amounts of Stella and resting on laurels. So, you say, job done. Almost. All they need now is a truly awe-inspiring album to go with the rock star posturing.

Which the first album certainly wasn’t. Is Empire any closer? Yes. No. Yes. No. Yes. Sort of. It’s an album which hits and misses, fits and starts, peaks and troughs. Some of it is ace: both lead single and title track Empire and Shoot The Runner stomp along with intoxicatingly massive arrogance in Marc Bolan‘s makeup, while By My Side grabs Right Here Right Now by Fatboy Slim and Aztec Camera‘s Somewhere In My Heart and forces them to do strange and horrible things to each other in the Hacienda car park.

But some of it seems more of a case of ego’s, cheques, bodies and a failure to cash. Apnoea sound remarkably impressed at being almost exactly the same mix of guitars and beats as The Chemical Brothers achieved the best part of a decade ago, and British Legion is a horrific, clumsy, cack-handed attempt at something a bit delicate, which just leaves a rather nasty looking acoustic sore on the face of (the) Empire.

It is better than the eponymous debut, although not to the level that their self-satisfaction with it would suggest, and there is still a distinct lack of consistency and a feeling that occasionally while you can see who and what they’re aiming at, they miss quite considerably.

Through it all, and most importantly, Empire is an improvement. Not a total success, but something which just about makes enough of an impact to justify the wild accusations and heartfelt slaggings-off they’ve administered to the masses. It’s a not insignificant step closer to their strut matching their speech.

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