The third album from the endearingly sullen U.K. neo-psychedelics features co-production courtesy of Gorillaz’s Dan the Automator, a duet with actress Rosario Dawson on loping, mystic chant “West Ryder Silver Bullet” and an overall reining-in of the band’s notoriously too-cool-for-the-dance-floor, lispy ambivalence. It’s no doubt a statement, though one only as clear as the previous night’s murky progression of events.
After simultaneously easing up on their eponymous debut’s electronics overdose and the indie-rock insipidness of sophomore effort Empire, less, ahem, confident groups might discover they’d accidentally extracted their entire structural backbone in the process. But Kasabian remain resourceful enough to tease out and overlay hints of hip-hop, cinematic swells and Middle Eastern influences into a formidably complex and many-hued collection.
Wide-ranging moods and tempos (not to mention the odd instrumental) ensure things remain pleasantly unpredictable, though not so experimentally indulgent that even the more introspective cuts like acoustic-sprinkled builder “Take Aim,” gosh-honest ballad “Ladies and Gentlemen (Roll the Dice)” and closing lullaby “Happiness” deter from an overarching ability to switch gears from the emotional to the physical and simply sweat it all out (the rollicking “Fast Fuse,” synth showcase “Vlad the Impaler”). As long as they can produce dark yet undaunted surprises like this, let the trash talk continue unabated.