Clearly inspired by the Rolling Stones branch of rock 'n' roll, fans of that sort of swagger rock are sure to adore Kasabian. That would certainly explain why they've managed to bag two number one albums in the UK, as well as a coveted Mercury Music Prize nomination. Still, if you're of the opinion that the Stones are the most overrated band in the history of time, it's likely you'll think something similar of Kasabian, or worse still, hate them for their boisterous and overt arrogance.
Objectively speaking though, the most annoying thing about 'West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum' is an overriding lack of justification to fault it. This is not lazy, plain guitar rock - far from it - and it suggests Kasabian have more collective intelligence than their public persona gives them credit for.
Sure, Kasabian take a lot from their heroes, but they also add enough imagination and unique detailing to keep things from sounding too reconstituted. The disco style strings on 'Where Did All The Love Go?' and distorted bass, oriental air and electro break down of 'Secret Alphabets' serve as prime examples. The spoken word intro of 'West Ryder Silver Bullet' may seem a tad contrived, but its exotic wild west vibe, together with Rosario Dawson's echoing backing vocals, gives it character and substance.
On the down side, lead single 'Vlad the Impaler' lets down its cool and commanding wah-wah style guitar intro by providing only some electronic sounds and effects as respite from its barking, monotone vocals. Elsewhere, guitarist Serge Pizzorno voice fails to command the same presence as main man Tom Meighan's, so when he provides lead vocals this album flails a little. These are lighter, more romantically styled tracks too, with the Kinks reminiscent 'Thick As Thieves' and cheesy ballad 'Ladies and Gentlemen, Roll The Dice' exemplifying nothing but standardised pop-rock. Even a chorus of female gospel singers can't save closer 'Happiness' from Pizzorno's docile croon.
Even the pretentious title of this album screams egotism and pompousness, but, and god it hurts to say this, if Kasabian could just pull their heads out of their a***s, they could be really good.