Album Reviews

Kasabian – Happenings

(Columbia) UK release date: 5 July 2024

The Leicester band’s eighth opus, now with Serge Pizzorno taking on lead vocals, dispenses with grand ideas and prog rock pretensions

Kasabian - Happenings With their unashamed retro influences and crowd pleasing swagger, in many ways Kasabian, along with Kaiser Chiefs, represent the last splutter of indie guitar music’s era of mainstream chart success that had produced the triumphs of Madchester and Britpop during the late 1980s and 1990s. It’s now 20 years since their eponymous, million-selling debut established their now familiar brand of frenetic synthesisers and boisterous rock choruses, and despite several personnel changes – including the departure of original frontman Tom Meighan in 2020 – the intervening years have seen their popularity endure as contemporaries have fallen by the wayside. 

With guitarist Serge Pizzorno now also taking on lead vocals, Happenings is the Leicester group’s eighth studio album, and a punchy effort it is too, clocking in at under 30 minutes with most tracks not exceeding the three minute mark. In many ways, it’s something of a relief that they’ve mostly dispensed with the grand ideas and prog rock pretensions that brought us records like West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum and The Alchemist’s Euphoria, which were as bloated and self-important as their titles suggest. However, those who also grimace at the band’s brashly unsubtle laddishness will find parts of Happenings as much an assault on the senses as ever, although Pizzorno is a less strident rabble rouser than the departed Meighan. 

After opening with a brief, less than minute long swathe of ominous synths (A Happening), the album’s first track proper is a quite a promising start, with the propulsive but controlled dynamism of Darkest Lullaby bearing some similarities to early Muse (with additional disco strings). Unfortunately, Kasabian follow this with the clanking beats and charmless chants of Call and the migraine-inducing electro-punk thrash of How Far Will You Go, both of which are as bad as anything you’re likely to hear this year. Thankfully, the quality bar rises a few notches with the blissful dance-pop of Coming Back To Me Good, which proves Kasabian can knock out a decent tune when they rein themselves back enough.

Most of the second half of the album is a forgettable mishmash of styles that fails to stamp its own identity on the listener. Hell Of It starts off sounding like first album Arctic Monkeys before spiralling into a shapeless mishmash of electronic noise and squalled vocal fragments; Bird In A Cage is a tuneless splodge of sub-Lady Gaga electro pop. Even closing track Algorithms, which boasts by far the warmest, catchiest melody on offer here, can’t resist the temptation to spoil a perfectly pleasant chorus by pumping it up into an over-egged football chant. 

While Meighan’s Liam Gallagher-like machismo may not have been to everyone’s taste, his vocals undoubtedly had much more presence than Pizzorno’s rather bland voice, which does little more than carry the songs on Happenings along, and is indicative of a broader lack of musical personality combined with a lack of truly memorable songs. That said, those who are already Kasabian converts – and there are many – will no doubt find plenty to enjoy in this latest offering from one of the most persistent stalwarts of the UK charts and live music scene this century.  

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