Album Review: Kasabian – For Crying Out Loud

By David Flanigan

With critical diminishing returns well and truly in force, a Kasabian cynic could reasonably argue that the now-token British festival headliners’ continued commercial success in 2017 is merely the result of determining the common denominator between 90s Oasis and 808 State listeners, and the existence of FIFA soundtracks (a jibe Pitchfork made as early as 2009). Regardless, guitarist and primary songwriter Sergio Pizzorno described Kasabian’s new album For Crying Out Loud to Q Magazine as a “feel-good” record, designed to kick-start the process of “saving guitar music from the abyss”, (a sentiment so euphemistic of disastrous regression that it’s a wonder Paul Nuttall didn’t book Kasabian to play UKIP’s General Election manifesto launch.)

The record boasts plenty of musical variation, and is appropriately guitar-heavy, but only the driving swagger of opener ‘Ill Ray (The King)’ comes anywhere close to supporting Pizzorno’s pre-release boasts. For Crying Out Loud is encumbered with throwaway numbers like the vaguely Western-themed ‘Sixteen Blocks,’ the perfunctory skip-bait acoustic cut ‘All Through the Night,’ and the heinously-titled boogie-rock karaoke effort ‘Bless This Acid House,’ upon which frontman Tom Meighan’s previously-serviceable vocals are as strident as they have ever been.

Bizarrely, the instrumental of lead single: ‘You’re In Love With a Psycho’ (*siiiiiiiigh*) is strikingly resemblant of Green Day’s American Idiot cut ‘Whatsername.’ The latter was a pensive curtain-closer to Green Day’s wildly successful 2004 rock-opera, and the gloom carries forth; ‘You’re In Love With a Psycho’ is a listless drag of a track, by a distance Kasabian’s weakest lead single to date.

Even Kasabian’s much-criticised preceding record: 48:13, a stuttering and inconsistent release though it was, had some instrumental highlights – particularly in more neo-psychedelic inspired moments like ‘treat, explodes, or bow.’ ‘Are You Looking For Action?’ fills this void on For Crying Out Loud to an extent – its production feels distantly 90s acid house-inspired – but its needlessly indulgent 8+ minute runtime and barren second-half rob the track of what potential it may have had in concept, and makes its selection as a promotional single all the more baffling.

Although Pizzorno usually boasts a keen ear for synth leads and catchy hooks or riffs, if nothing else, he has never demonstrated any sort of lyrical prowess. For Crying Out Loud contains another carelessly-assembled welter of banal platitudes and abstract-to-the-point-of-inane references to join his already bloated portfolio – enough to compile several VICE:Noisey-style “Which Shaggy-Haired Shyster Said It: Serge from Kasabian or Super Hans from Peep Show?” quizzes. From the incomprehensible 2nd verse of ‘Comeback Kid’: “Sasquatch in a bin bag/It’s no surprise/Nosebleed in a pound shop/Spitting flies” to the equally questionable opening of ‘Sixteen Blocks’: “A true friend is hard to find/Chicken on the high street make you go blind/Shimmying up the totem pole/I got sick of the arctic roll”, Pizzorno is a lyricist in the sense that an unattended toddler felt-tipping a living room wall is an artist; anything vaguely inspirational produced as a result is purely coincidental, and a responsible adult should probably tell them to stop, with some urgency.

Devoid of earworm choruses, compelling synth work, or anything that made the band remotely attractive previously, For Crying Out Loud is Kasabian’s poorest album, to date. A supercut of their worst traits, it is an album-length assimilation of all the rambling filler that pollutes their back catalogue, and ultimately, an admission that the band’s well of inspiration ran dry some time ago.