Sound — 7
Kasabian's experimental and majestic third album "West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum" was always going to be a hard act to follow, it was an album that would change the band's career drastically. As such, "Velociraptor!" continues down the route of experimentation, to mixed effect. Strings and horns are used on occasion, maintaining the insane majesty of the previous album, but on "Acid Turkish Bath" in particular it does little to distract from the languid nature of the song which stretches past the 6-minute mark. More understated experimentation is to be found in synth-driven "I Hear Voices", whilst more straightforward guitar riffs, reminiscent of earlier efforts, drive the lead singles "Days Are Forgotten", "Switchblade Smiles" as well as the impressive "Re-Wired" and the title track. The best songs here are those that do sound as though they could have appeared on previous Kasabian albums, whereas the experimental ones relent the pace, rhythm and flow of the album to too great an extent.
Lyrics — 4
Lyrics have never been a particularly strong suit for Kasabian, in that they are rarely clever, witty, moving or inspired in any way. Having said that, any fan of Kasabian will be aware that they are not a band you enjoy for their lyrics. Sometimes though, the lyrics dip from average to really poor; "I see Lucy in the sky, telling me I'm high". This kind of lazy Beatles reference in "La Fee Verte" seems almost like an attempt to endear themselves to Oasis fans. "Neon Noon" is a more ambitious lyrical venture, but does not quite meet its deep, contemplative purpose. As well as this, lyrics sometimes cease to be present altogether; "la la la's" and repetition can be grating, particularly as most of the songs surpass 4 minutes. To this effect, Tom Meighan's voice lacks the versatility to consistently keep the lyrics engaging or even interesting; it is often difficult to maintain attention by the end of a track. Pizzorno's increasingly frequent voice does help to break this up, but it too struggles to bring anything new to the table. Something which will have been noted by listeners to the singles "Switchblade Smiles" and "Days Are Forgotten" is the presence of what sounds like primal screams and extended "aahs". This unorthodox inclusion is a high point in what is vocally and lyrically a generally unimpressive album.
Overall Impression — 6
"Velociraptor!" is album title that writes a cheque the album itself rarely seems in a position to cash. Only on the riff-ridden highlights do Kasabian really deliver the pace and aggression we expect here, whilst many other self-indulgent tracks simply last far longer than any listener wants them to. Nothing really feels like filler here, but roughly half of the tracks are instantly forgettable. Whilst I was a fan of their slower songs such as "Ladies And Gentlemen, Roll The Dice" and of course "Happiness" from their previous album, "Neon Noon", this album's laid-back closer exemplifies the self-indulgent, over-extended and ultimately boring "ballads" on this album. Nevertheless, "Days Are Forgotten", "Re-Wired" and "Switchblade Smiles" are well worth listening to, as they represent Kasabian doing what they do best; indie rock with an experimental twist.