Music review: Guerrilla appearance a bad indicator of Kasabian’s artistry

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Kasabian

Kasabian

RCA Records

Two out of five stars

Kasabian’s self-titled debut felt like it had such great potential when I first held it in my hands-the guerilla stylings of the album art, complete with blocky Soviet letters spelling the band’s name boldly across the front, and a mysterious face hidden behind a mischievous blue bandana both seemed to advertise modern domestic rebellion.

So did Kasabian’s music…at least initially.

The album’s opening tracks are undeniably strong: The scruffy lead guitar is intelligently layered over driving, DJ-style drum beats. Creepy ambient samples act as intros and outros and create intriguing atmospheres within which songs are framed. The sometimes-wailing, sometimes-monotone British bloke-speak methodically follows the swell of the thick instrumentation.

But this is Kasabian at its best, and the album is interesting only to a very limited degree.

There is too much continuity through the song list, and there are next to no sonic landmarks to give the listener some idea of their position in the album.

Listen to Kasabian’s debut more than a couple of times in a row and it feels like you are lost in some demented musical maze. There is no way to know if you have already been where you are-you may as well have been walking in circles.

The lyrics won’t give you any better idea of what is going on than the instrumentation, either.

Kasabian sings about something, that’s for sure, but what? “I ran from the tide/Won’t let you hide.”-Riiiight.

Ambiguous meanings let Kasabian sit on the fence and claim musical and political activism without actually saying anything.

Which is kind of the whole idea of Kasabian.

Have you heard of The Movement? “What kind of movement?” you might ask. Well I don’t know, although I just became a member (neither the Web site nor the fan mail offer the slightest explanation). According to one fan’s Kasabian Web site, The Movement represents Kasabian’s belief “in personal revolution.” Kasabian believes that you should “be true to yourself, not the [other] movements,” and that you should “join The Movement to become an individual.”-Riiiight, again.

All of this appears to be the final touch on Kasabian’s manufactured guerilla-group identity: Rather than pursuing any real social or political goals, The Movement rather is a scheme to capitalize on the popularity of Che Guevara T-shirts and Internet message boards.

It’s a contrived attempt to convince young robots to save their individuality by going out and buying in.

Still, slick packaging and major label production can’t hide the fact that Kasabian doesn’t have much to say.

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