Kasabian – Velociraptor! (Sony)

If Kasabian was an English schoolboy his blazer would be more highly-decorated than Hugh Grant’s bedpost. The high achiever won Best British Group at the 2010 Brit Awards and has picked up awards from NME, Mojo and Q. Now he’s set out to prove his critics right with fourth album Velociraptor!.

The album opens with the Middle Eastern-tinged epic Let’s Roll Just Like We Used To. Anthemic second track Days Are Forgotten is an instant winner with the silky drums, battle cries, semi-spoken lyrics and demented outro. The next song is Pulp-esque with lyrics like “doomed from the start, we met with a goodbye kiss” and ironic finger snapping. La Fee Verte, a song about the green fairy, is the obligatory drug track. The words hark back to the 60s, the melodies are Beatles-esque, the “the drugs are kicking in” sequence is pretty 70s… but the soft and spacey track miraculously avoids falling too far into cliché. The next track Velociraptor! abruptly shakes off the absinthe-induced haze. “He gonna find ya, he gonna kill ya, he gonna eat ya” Tom Meighan sings cheerfully.

Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter From The Storm) is part Kashmir and part industrial drone. In the wake of the London riots the bleak story of life in the suburbs has particular resonance. “It’s the 21st Century, ain’t it cool, it’s taught us how to eat and how to drool” sings Meighan, before leading the sing-along chant “we gotta break down the walls and shelter from the storm”. Next song I Hear Voices is a naff, synth-heavy weak moment before Re-Wired bursts in with some ballsy rock. Man of Simple Pleasures is a typical changeable Kasabian song, beginning with a swampy and dirty-sounding verse, then morphing briefly into a mystical power ballad before rather unfortunately settling on pie-and-a-pint Brit pop.

Switchblade Smiles sounds like one of those songs that is just better live, when the dramatic layers of guitar could really get “the feet stomping around the room”, and final song Neon Sky is really more like a faint watercolour. Kasabian have strategically engaged design legend Aitor Throup to create the album art, so there’s something to look at during these rare lagging moments. (Throup’s images look a little like Schiele’s… if Schiele had played video games and had an obsession with reptiles).

Kasabian have clearly been through some ups and downs in the twelve years they’ve been together. Many songs on this album are about drugs, alcohol, life not living up to expectations, and the bitter taste of success. Fear not, British schoolboy. Velociraptor! is bound to earn some more medals for your chest.

Kathryn van Beek www.joyriderpromotions.com

Click here to listen to Days Are Forgotten from Velociraptor!