Written by: Andy Stewart
To say that the follow up to 2009’s West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum album has expectations on it is an understatement. Kasabian‘s last effort garnered them a two week stay at #1 on the UK Charts, a short-listing for the 2009 Mercury awards, ‘Best Album’ from the Q awards and ‘Best Album Award’ from NME. Not bad for only the second album from a band formed just over 11 years ago.
All that success would leave any band in a precarious position of having to deliver another album, at the same level or better as their previous offering. More times than not, bands are unable to match the creative and critical success of previous offerings. Which brings us to Velociraptor!; an album which finds the band again partnering up with Dan the Automator in what is surely an attempt to recapture the same form from two years ago; a smart move which should exploit his unique production skills in unison with the band’s musical talent.
The first two tracks on the album, “Let’s Roll Like We Used To” and “Days Are Forgotten”, have a very ‘spaghetti western’ feel to them, and seem to pick up where WRPLA left off; clever songs that are presented with the swagger of a band hitting its stride and being acutely aware of that fact. That swagger though is quickly replaced with a sense of calm that leaves the album feeling somewhat tame. That tameness doesn’t mean the songs are not good, quite the opposite. They just feel unremarkable which is disappointing. The band still provides a varied sound on most of their songs, “Re-Wired” and “Man of Simple Pleasures” being two such offerings, which display their diversity; other times show glimpse of greatness, but never quite hit the mark.
Velociraptor! is a good album (some might say great) that definitely builds upon their previous efforts with an expanded confidence and polish to their music. That polish, however, seems to remove a lot of the parts that made the last album fantastic; the near maniacal feeling that some songs evoked followed by completely unexpected songs that were the mark of a band pushing its boundaries. This album is an evolutionary step forward for Kasabian, which will likely garner them even more critical and commercial success, but it leaves out some important parts of the band’s personality. Specifically that disregard for normalcy and a simmering rage that pushed song songs beyond good to great examples of what rock and roll should be. I only hope that those missing parts are not gone for good and will re-emerge again on future albums.