Kasabian - The Alchemist’s Euphoria review: Plenty of sparks to keep the fire burning

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 (Neil Bedford)
(Neil Bedford)

When other bands attempt to carry on with a new singer but the same name, it’s usually because the last one died. The position of Leicester arena fillers Kasabian is trickier. Frontman Tom Meighan was fired in 2020 after he was found guilty of assaulting his fiancée and sentenced to 200 hours of community service. She seems to have forgiven him – they got married last year – but he hasn’t rejoined the band. “There is absolutely no way we can condone his assault conviction,” they said in a statement at the time. “Domestic violence and abuse of any kind is totally unacceptable.”

Kasabian’s most important element is still there as the remaining members release their seventh album. It was always guitarist Serge Pizzorno who wrote the songs, with a fascinating ear for electronic oddness that has often been overlooked amid all the shouty indie rock. Now he’s the frontman too.

Meighan was never the most remarkable singer – it would be a cinch to do him at karaoke, put it that way – so he’s not particularly missed on record. To draw yet another parallel with their old mates from Burnage, this isn’t quite Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds insiting on still calling themselves Oasis. But on stage, Meighan was a highly watchable lightning rod for a notoriously unhinged audience. The quieter Pizzorno will need to grow in stature to stay in control of those flammable crowds, but seemed to manage okay when the band headlined the Isle of Wight festival last month. (Meighan, in contrast, will perform solo at the significantly smaller Looe Live festival in Cornwall in September.)

He’s given himself plenty of kindling here. Scriptvre has the kind of crunching breakbeats and snarling guitars that will feel like a kick in the guts in concert. Rocket Fuel is another one to put alongside old favourites such as Velociraptor! and Vlad the Impaler in the pile of Kasabian songs that are a bit silly really, with its mix of rave synths and chanted vocals, but it’s great fun if you give in to its rowdy nonsense.

Anyone trawling the lyrics hoping to find something more personal will be most intrigued by The Wall, a grand piano anthem that sees Pizzorno singing: “Why’d you do it?/Why’d you have to lose control?/Well I blame it on my heroes.” Later, on Chemicals, another dancey highlight, he adds: “Whatever don’t kill you makes you stronger.” If the faithful fans can cope with the new optics, they’ll surely agree.

(Sony)

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