West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum review by Kasabian

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  • Released: Jun 5, 2009
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 9
  • Reviewer's score: 8.7 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.3 (36 votes)
Kasabian: West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum

Sound — 9
This takes the trippy psychadelic songs from their self titled debut album, the foot stomping anthems from their second album 'Empire' and adds a more acoustic, melodic, laid back ambience to create a sound that is far more easy listening than its predecessors. The album kicks in with the track 'Underdog', used in the Sony Bravia adverts, and gets the album rolling. This track seems to be a double edged sword, used equally as good in night clubs for drunken dancing and singalongs as well as just to listen to sat down at home. It also gives Tom Meighan a chance to show his singing ability and it works beautifully, with the fuzzy guitar riff and the trance inducing keyboards. Then comes the second single released from the album 'Where Did All The Love Go?'. A song about the increase in violent behaviour in Britain, and a catchy chorus to boot. Yet again it shows Meighan is'nt all stage arrogance and shouting, and uses some string arrangements to accompany a guitar based song. Whilst this is fast becoming a fans favourite, it could well be that if Serge is trying to get a message across in his lyrics it won't, like most songs that try it, succeed. Third up is the drum and bass/heavy-duty hand cleaner inspired 'Swarfiga'. This seems to be just album filler, the heel to the albums Achilles. There is no vocals just music, much like 'Orange', 'Pinch Roller' and 'Ovary Stripe' from the first album and whilst the previous 3 complimented the songs around it in their debut, 'Swarfiga' just seems to get in the way. Then comes 'Fast Fuse'. A song that has been out for over a year, after being penned down to be released on an EP then being retracted at the last minute, brings back the loud, cocksure glam rock sound from 'Empire' to great effect. If Guy Ritchie were to ever make a 60's based gangster flick, this, without a shadow of a doubt, would have to be the title track for it. The 5th track is where the album starts to slow down a bit and becomes more relaxed with 'Take Aim'. The track starts out with a 50 second horn and string arrangement before Serge kicks in with acoustic guitar and lead vocals. Once the first verse and chorus are out of the way the horns, strings, bass and drums join for a track that builds and builds with every verse to great effect. A song that, no doubt, will have you all relaxed at the start but jumping up and down like a madman singing along by the end. Next up comes the gypsy sounding acoustic track 'Thick As Thieves'. This provides a simple four chord progression on the acoustic guitar accompanied with vocals by Meighan, some piano riffs and what sounds like a mandolin. Whilst they seem to be compared constantly to lad-rock behemoths Oasis, a tag which they put down whenever asked, this is probably the only song they have done that wouldn't sound out of place on an Oasis album. Up next is 'West Ryder Silver Bullet'. Described by Serge as a "mad road movie theme" it does stray from the norm, if there is one, of Kasabian tracks. Starting out with a monologue from the 1983 film 'Sans Soleil' an acoustic guitar kicks in, not too dissimilar from that of 'Take Aim'. Then Meighans vocals start, yet again singing rather than rhyming lyrics off like we are used to. Then when the chorus comes in, out of nowhere female vocals (Rosario Dawson - Sin City, Clerks 2) retort "He's My Baby" to Meighans "She's My Baby". This song has a lethargic feeling about it, but that is not a bad thing, and the female vocals add something new to the album and the track and works very well. The 8th track on this album is 'Vlad The Impaler'. Relased free for one day from the Kasabian website this is the track that got the ball rolling with the album. With a bass riff that sticks in your head like The Crazy Frog minus the annoyance and some of the most bizarre lyrics ever this song has hit written all over it. It brings back Meighans vocal style seen on 'Processed Beats' and 'Club Foot' with a simple and catchy chorus of "Get Loose, Get Loose". After one listen you will probably be unconvinced, but this song is a grower and is guarenteed to fill dance floors in indie clubs all around Britain. Up next is, rather strangely ballad like 'Ladies & Gentleman'. Whilst most of the tracks on this album show that Meighan has the ability to sing very well, this is probably the weakest of them, however it does show the band in a different light, not the usual indie anthems we come to expect. It is probably fair to say that some people will love this track whereas an equal amount will probably hate it. The 10th track is a song called 'Secret Alphabets'. This is by far the best composed song (co written by Helmut Zacharias) on the whole album and combines Serge's soft spoken singing with a predominant baseline and drum beat covered with keyboard and guitar riffs using a variety of effects with strings coming in at the end of the track to slow it down very well. It is like a combination of all Serges other tracks on the previous two albums and mashes them up and it comes off with aplomb. The 1st single from the album comes up next. 'Fire' is Kasabians highest charting single to date. The intro and verses lull you into a false sense of security, with slow haunting lyrics and a sleepy style marching rhythm. Then just as your eyes are about to close and your starting to nod off, the drums pick up and your jumping around shouting "I'm On Fire". Fans of the singles 'Empire', 'Shoot The Runner' amd 'L.S.F.' will not be dissapointed. The ending to the third album is a track called 'Happiness'. Yet again Serge takes full control of vocals, using soft strummng on an acoustic guitar and piano to get the song going before the drums kick in. Unlike previous tracks however doesn't build up but stays quite mellow throughout, utilising a gospel chori to harmonise with the singing. It is quite similar in sound to the Gorillaz track 'Don't Get Lost In Heaven' from their second album 'Demon Days'.

Lyrics — 8
With Meighans singing utilised in this album it is a lot easier to make out the lyrics used in the tracks. The choruses on this album are easy to remember and give the fans a lot to do at live gigs which just adds to the brilliance that is Kasabian live. However there are still some lyrics that people may struggle to understand, something that has happened in all 3 albums, and it is hard at times to tell whether the lyrics are written with meaning or if it is just because they rhyme or sound right for the songs.

Overall Impression — 9
While they come up to a lot criticism for changing their sound, albeit a little, Kasabian have done something with 3 albums that very few british bands are willing to do; take risks. Most bands either get too comfortable or do not have the ability to change the music, but in 3 albums Kasabian have produced one hip hop madchester influenced album, one glam rock anthem influenced album, and a psychadelic trippy acoustic album. While they do take their time out between albums it has always been worth the wait and 'The West Ryder Lunatic Pauper Asylum' does not let down. It is by no means a perfect album but by far overshadows some of the same generic tripe that British bands have been producing. This is a band that are starting to gain the respect they deserve and another album to the standard of the last 3 will no doubt make them festival headliners and one of, if not the biggest British bands!

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    It is by no means a perfect album but by far overshadows some of the same generic tripe that British bands have been producing.
    As opposed to constantly innovative American bands?
    Kasabian = British Band So obviously I am going to compare them to other British bands. My knowledge of the American music scene at the moment is quite poor so I don't really want to comment on it
    I thought this album was much better than their first 2. unlike their first albums where Clubfoot and Empire were the big hitters and the rest of the songs being mediocre at best, this album is really well rounded. u should definetly get this album!!
    Aha, fair enough. I don't like Kasabian; i find them to be arrogant and self-aggrandising. Their music seems to lean dangerously towards 'lad rock' but, in fairness, my knowledge of their tracks isn't especially extensive.