Kasabian are back and weirder than ever on their new album, 'The Alchemist's Euphoria'
It's been a good while since we last heard from alternative rock legends Kasabian. Their last effort 'For Crying Out Loud' dropped in 2017, and now represents the band's last outing with frontman Tom Meighan, whom has since been fired. Taking that into consideration, along with a little thing known as 'COVID', and it's no surprise that it's taken the band five whole years to release another album. But now with the band's guitarist and second-in-command Serge Pizzorno taking the reigns completely, we are finally treated to the band's seventh album, 'The Alchemist's Euphoria'.
It's never easy for a band to move forwards after losing a front-person, but definitely not one as iconic as Tom Meighan in a band as big as Kasabian. For a lot of bands, it happens early enough in their career that sonic experimentation and stylistic changes that happen are hidden away in the depths of their catalogue. But for Kasabian, working out their new sound and direction is being played out infront of thousands, if not millions, of fans. It's therefore easy to understand why this album is as divisive as it is proving to be; 'The Alchemist's Euphoria' is a band rebuilding themselves, and trying on new outfits, some of which don't quite fit.
Kicking off with 'ALCHEMIST', the band elects to use a melancholy and muted opener that builds from acoustics and muffled vocals to a simple 00's indie ballad. It's a good introduction for the album, slowly easing the listener into the new styles and sounds that the band have been toying with for this experience, before the explosive follow up track. 'SCRIPTVRE' is rammed with crunchy guitars and pounding drums that give the song an undeniable swagger, even given the cheesy lyricism that borders on cringeworthy a little too often. The moments of slow-down, with acoustics and simple orchestral elements, provide a nice amount of sonic contrast between the other moments of sheer musical ferocity on the track.
'ROCKET FUEL' takes that ferocity and turns it up to eleven, with a blaring and messy rave-styled track that still has those 'lad rock' roots of Kasabian buried deep within. Ultimately, however, the outcome feels a little aimless and overblown, with the synths sounding more than a little tacky, and the track's structure bordering on unpalatable in how, well, unstructured it is. Things improve drastically, however, on the following track 'STRICTLY OLD SKOOL' - the simple kick drum and spacey instrumentation in the verses is simply an absolute delight to listen to, with the track as a whole possessing a bit of a trip-hop or perhaps bedroom pop vibe to it; it feels like a modern interpretation of the best indie tracks of the 00's, and is right at home with the rest of Kasabian's music.
'ALYGATYR' is fierce and obnoxious in all the best ways. An unapologetic alternative rock rager, with blown-out guitars and swaggering drums. The stripped back dance-styled segment in the second verse is a fantastic moment of musical contrast, before exploding back into thumping adrenaline-fueled choruses. Starkly contrasting this is the following track 'THE WALL', which presents itself as a stripped back lo-fi anthem with sparse pianos and spacey synths and percussion. For certain, it represents Pizzorno's best vocal performance across the entirety of the album, filled with a surprising amount of tenderness and vulnerability, and places the vocals at the forefront of the track for once. The track builds to a simple but sweet pop-rock ending that almost acts as the closing statement for the first half of the album, because things get weird from here on out.
After a brief instrumental we get 'T.U.E (the ultraview effect)', which is the longest track on the album, clocking in at nearly six minutes. It's a track that defies concrete description, unfurling as a progressive, house-tinged banger that feels like the most experimental point of not just the album, but arguably Kasabian's catalogue yet. The track fades in and out through several different styles of music, from simple, lo-fi electronic rock, to moody house, before opening out into an almost Muse-styled progressive rock outro, even featuring an expansive guitar solo. At times, it does, once again, feel a little aimless, but that's easy to forgive given the sheer ambition at play here; this feels like Kasabian truly embracing an evolution of their sound, and one can't help but wonder what an album of material of this style would play out like.
If you thought 'T.U.E' was weird, however, wait until we get to 'STARGAZR', which feels like, simply put, a contact high in a song. A spaced-out house track that's almost an instrumental in nature, with Pizzorno's reverb soaked vocals floating around aimlessly to a backing of simple, repetitive, escalating synths and percussion. It is for sure an interesting musical moment, but perhaps should have been placed elsewhere on the album, maybe as a closer; the ambient nature of the track does not lend itself to following a five-minute progressive meandre through genres that featured much of the same atmosphere, as the momentum of the album grinds to a brief halt.
Following that detour through the stranger side of the album, we kick back off with 'CHEMICALS', which sees the album returning to a simpler style of music; 'CHEMICALS' is an uptempo indie-rock banger that builds from off-kilter verses to killer, blistering choruses that blaze by in a flurry of danceable rhythms and soaring guitars and pianos. Again, Pizzorno sounds surprisingly adept as a vocalist here, and showcases his capacity for being the new helmsman for Kasabian. Finally, we reach 'LETTING GO' - a simple acoustic ballad to close off the album, in which Pizzorno sounds strangely like, of all people, John Lennon. Some simple percussion and twinkling synths join the track towards the back end, giving a sweet, tender ending to the song. It is however definitely an odd choice to close the album on, as it is not at all indicative of any of the prior music that played out across 'The Alchemist's Euphoria', especially in the latter half of the album.
All-in-all, Kasabian's seventh outing is as frustrating as it is exciting. 'The Alchemist's Euphoria' is indicative of a band that is trying to find their identity once more, following a period of great change for them, and the experimentation that has come with that has lead to some of their most diverse and interesting tracks yet, whilst also leading to moments that feel like they haven't quite been though out properly by the band. It's obvious, however, that even on the lowest points of the album, Kasabian have thrown everything into making this LP, and that has to be commended. With all of their cards on the table, where they go from here, who knows?
Kasabian’s latest album ‘The Alchemist's Euphoria’ is currently available to stream on all major platforms. Catch them on their headline tour in October and November 2022 at the dates below!
20 - Belfast - The Telegraph Building
28 - Manchester - AO Arena
29 - London - Alexandra Palace
31 - Doncaster - Doncaster Dome
02 - Cardiff - Motorpoint Arena
04 - Birmingham - Utilita Arena
05 - Glasgow - OVO Hydro
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