Separating the artist from the art is an art in itself. In other words, I fucking hate Kasabian. Maybe it’s their bitching about how they, unlike the dudes in Keane, “bleed rock ‘n’ roll.” (Wanna be rock ‘n’ roll? Don’t give a shit about Keane.) Or maybe it’s because they say they are an honest, unpretentious band that grew out of “friendship first” and then describe how they recruited their guitarist because he “looks the part” in the same paragraph. I think mostly it’s because they’re named after Linda Kasabian, Charles Manson’s getaway driver, and there is nothing less rock ‘n’ roll than a Manson reference (sorry Marilyn).
This disgust for false modesty and pretentious stabs at a lack of pretense makes me confused when I listen to their self-titled debut. I know I am overcompensating for that hatred, but which way? Do I, deep down, hate this electro-rock Primal Scream rip-off, or am I blinding myself from the future of rock simply because these guys sound like dicks?
I am fairly confident that, whatever your reaction to Kasabian the band, your reaction to “Kasabian” the music will be somewhat middling. Their big lead-off single, “Club Foot” gets stuck in your head like a good little pop song, but its ancestors are laid so bare that it’s hard to take it seriously. Mingling with the ever-present Primal Scream are the unmissed Lo Fidelity All-Stars and the irreplaceable Happy Mondays. “L.S.F.” and “Reason is Treason” are similarly radio-friendly; don’t change the station, but don’t buy the record. “Processed Beats” has the best chance of making your play list: It’s got a great bass line and uses the band’s electronic influences without feeling as forced as the rest of the record.
By the second half of Kasabian, when “Cutt Off” tells us over swirling synths that “John was a scientist, he was hooked on LSD,” the muddled mix has revealed itself, and the band’s sound just melds into one big pose for the camera. The band eventually lands somewhere in the middle of the darker side of the new millennium’s rock movement: not nearly as bad as the Music, certainly not as good as Black Rebel Motorcycle Club’s solid debut. Eventually, the members of Kasabian will have to prove their talent is as big as their mouths, because right now they seem to be bleeding a lot more than they are rock ‘n’ rolling.