sat 13/07/2024

Album: Kasabian - Happenings | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Kasabian - Happenings

Album: Kasabian - Happenings

Eighth album from Leicester electro-rockers lacks heft

As ever with Kasabian, striking cover art, this time by Newcastle artist Jimmy Turrell

Great bands’ output can, famously, be predicated by the intense interaction between members, often between a central creative pairing. This can be a harmonious mutuality but, more often, music is built from tension, from difference, from the frisson between two individuals.

Such was the case with Kasabian for many years, with the gradually increasing disparity, between Kasabian guitarist and primary songwriter Serge Pizzorno and bullish frontman Tom Meighan. On their first album without the latter, 2022’s quirky The Alchemist’s Euphoria, they just about got away with his absence. On the shinier, more straightforward Happenings, it is felt more strongly.

There’s also the issue of the production. The album is short and snappy, 11 songs in under half an hour (“A minute shorter than The Ramones debut”, Pizzorno has said, with justifiable pride). It contains some material that’s catchy and vim-filled. Unfortunately, it’s also been lumbered with production that lacks dirt and rock’n’roll thrust. This is the work of Pizzorno and Mark Ralph, the latter, tellingly, more usually found behind the desk for the likes of Zara Larsson and Clean Bandit.

The best material on Happenings has an LCD Soundsystem electro zing, cuts such as “Hell of It” and “Call”. The rampaging punkin’ of “How Far Will You Go” recalls the feistiness of Moby’s Void Pacific Choir project. Kasabian have cheekily revelled in the uncool of terrace anthem choruses in the past, but their attempts here are clunky, notably on the otherwise bouncy “Italian Horror”, while closer “Algorithms” goes for a “Wonderwall”-ish vibe that’s lyrically elated but doesn’t fully persuade.

Pizzorno has always come across as the focused, serious, ambitious muso in the band. He steps far into this territory with the chunky yacht rock groove of “Coming Back to Me Good” and US FM radio stadium rock of “G.O.A.T.”. But it’s his voice that really undermines. It lacks character and heft, rendering Kasabian pale shadows of bands they once outshone. Meighan’s voice was and is belligerent and raucous. It is missed.

In short, there’s some decent sallies at songs on Happenings but the production doesn’t quite fit and something else ineffable is missing.

Below: watch the video for "Darkest Lullaby" by Kasabian

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