Sound — 5
Kasabian and their music have always managed to be both confounding and polarizing. With the band themselves stating their disdain for the label "indie rock," it's perhaps the easiest way to describe the band's eclectic sound of rock mixed with hip-hop, electronica, and even orchestral characteristics. But balancing out that mix in their music, however, has proven to be a tough task. After working with Dan the Automator (best known for co-producing Gorillaz's debut album) on their third album, 2009's "West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum," which went from emulating styles of The Black Keys to Squarepusher, Kasabian leaned more on conventional indie rock sounds along with their experimentation in their fourth album, 2011's "Velociraptor!," which ended up being their most well-lauded album. Though that may have been the arguable sweet spot, Kasabian aimed to mix more of their old sounds with their new sounds in their self-produced fifth album, 2014's "48:13," where the hip hop drumbeats and modular synths outweighed their rock instrumentation to less avail.
Now on their sixth album, "For Crying Out Loud," Kasabian continue to wrestle with their aural chemistry. The band focus more on a guitar-centric sound this time around, but as expected, they embellish it by drawing from their bag of tricks. Some of these tricks are repeats, like the regal horns that introduce the peppy "Comeback Kid," the Jamiroquai-esque nu funker "Are You Looking For Action?," or the hip hop beat and synth melodies that assist the sullen cut of "The Party Never Ends," but other new tricks come off novel more than anything, like the saloon-style piano riffing at the end of "Good Fight," the EDM beats shoehorned into a section of "Ill Ray (The King)," or the hint-of-Latin dance rocker "Wasted," that, strangely enough, sounds like it takes a page from the hit Jennifer Lopez single "Waiting For Tonight."
Figuring out new ways to keep up their weird sound alive is only part of the struggle, though. In the bigger picture of "For Crying Out Loud," Kasabian waver between appealing to their sonic oddities and indulging an approachable mentality to songwriting. While the aforementioned songs keep the former concern in mind, plenty of other songs adhere to a straightforward sensibility. While the somber acoustic ballad "All Through The Night" succeeds with its simplicity, the Britpop-by-numbers songwriting in "Bless This Acid House" sounds as derivative as can be. Furthermore, an extensive usage of singalongs shows more of a concerted effort for pop-minded songwriting banking on infectious appeal, heard in the tame "You're In Love With A Psycho," the hooky "Twentyfourseven," and the limp acoustic closer "Put Your Life On It." Perhaps most aggressively in this fashion is "Sixteen Blocks," where its whistling/singalong lead melody reaches the desperate-to-be-catchy levels of Imagine Dragons.
Lyrics — 7
With the previous "48:13" being widely panned for its ham-handed attempts at making strong social commentary, frontman Tom Meighan's lyrics in "For Crying Out Loud" draw from the more familiar well of a life lived in debauchery. But in contrast to the hedonistic details divulged in earlier albums, Meighan approaches the topic with a more discerning perspective, leading to more critical observations. Whether it's being a pretentious barfly in "You're In Love With A Psycho" ("Jibber jabber at the bargain booze / And reciting Charles Bukowski, I got nothing to lose"), no longer enjoying a night out stag in "All Through The Night" ("Throw on some shades, mooch around, do some prowling / Nothing seems as good as it once was"), or the many cases of partying to escape the woes of modernity ("Yeah, we're all mad in England / The city's crumbling" in "Twentyfourseven"; "It's all we ever know / Another lost weekend / Trade blow for blow" in "The Party Never Ends"; "Give up, get down, until the sunlight / They'll be sweeping you up off the pavement" in "Are You Looking For Action?"), Meighan's less glamorous take on the hollowness of the party scene ends up being a more savvy bout of social commentary than what he tried in Kasabian's previous album.
Overall Impression — 6
Once again showing Kasabian balance the many different ways they want to sound, "For Crying Out Loud" shows both stumbles and steps forward. Whereas its lyrical matter certainly shows an honest improvement, the music aspect of the album is in a much more ambivalent place. While its scattershot of different sounds and styles results in another collection of hits and misses not uncommon for Kasabian, perhaps the most head-scratching moments on "For Crying Out Loud" are the moments where the band want to sound as normal as possible. Ultimately, it clashes with the enigmatic songwriter status Kasabian have always embraced, and it ends up being the biggest drag for the album.