Kasabian West Rider Pauper Lunatic Asylum Reviews

Brilliant, uplifting, showy and epic.

Kasabian are back with a third album and surprise surprise, they’re not coming quietly. In fact, after favouring brevity on 2004’s Kasabian and 2006’s Empire, they’ve gone all-out word crazy with a genius concept album: West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum.

The concept is the soundtrack to an imaginary movie undoubtedly taking place at the 19th century West Yorkshire facility that gave the album its name. If first single Fire is anything to go by, it’s going to be a slow-burning grower of an album.

After the departure of co-writer Chris Karloff during the making of Empire, Serge Pizzorno went solo with writing responsibilities and also co-produced with Gorillaz production supreme Dan The Automator between their very juxtaposed bases of Leicester and San Francisco.

The partnership works like a charm, as you may well have heard already – whether through the album leak, the 2007 EP, the website limited debut, the Bravia TV ad or the soundtrack to FIFA 2009. Kasabian haven’t exactly been creeping around ahead of launch.

These songs are epic, they could open films or welcome boxing titans into the ring. Opener Underdog has an instantly loveable classic, defiant riff. Vlad The Impaler is utter bonkers from the lyrics to the video starring The Mighty Boosh’s Noel Fielding as a vampire. There’s genuinely touching old-school nostalgia on Where Did All The Love Go and the opening 20 seconds of Fast Fuse could go down in history as one of the finest intros ever created.

Some of the tracks take a while to reveal their charms (Fire, Happiness where Serge’s vocals don’t quite stand up to Tom’s, Take Aim and West Ryder Silver Bullet – a duet with Sin City star Rosario Dawson). But every single one has at least a flash of utter brilliance – and most a darn sight more.

Kasabian may be a bunch of rogues, but they’re very, very loveable ones making music that’s brilliant, uplifting, showy and epic – but above all fun. Only they could make an instrumental track named after the mechanic’s hand cleaner Swarfiga cool.

The swagger is definitely back. But then, if you’ve got it, why not flaunt it?



It has been two and half years since the release of Kasabian’s somewhat lacklustre sophomore album Empire and thus almost five years since the swagger and effortlessness of the band’s blistering debut. Third time round the band have respectfully hit a middle ground. The West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum is a return to the punchy, confident riffs and smooth, über-cool basslines of the debut and a move away from the baffling, experimental and wayward ramblings of Empire.

Beginning with the jaggedy, confidence and lyricism of Underdog the album undulates between the energetic, Oasis-like arrogance of Where Did All The Love Go to the folk-tinged, slickness of Thick as Thieves. This and following track West Ryder Silver Bullet could easily be found comfortably ambling there way through a Sergio Leone modern-day Western, atmospherically conjuring up visions of a dusty, deserted town.

Orchestral additions and psychedelic electronic jabs are weaved subtly into the slowly building Take Aim and organ-tinged Secret Alphabets before returning to full throttle rock riffs that made stand out tracks Empire and Club Foot splendidly care free. Fire has a simple yet effective toe-tapping rhythm echoing a return to form for Leicester’s best-known 5-piece.

Fast Fuse would slot perfectly into an episode of Shameless with its mixture of raw guitar riffs and mischievous piano accompaniment whilst Vlad the Impaler, again utilising the synth-organ and heavily distorted guitars, is as lyrically impressive and infectious as Underdog and earlier tracks Processed Beats and L.S.F.

The West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, although not quite strutting as confidently as the likes of debut album track Butcher Blues still marks a blinding return to form. Walking basslines, spot-on experimental additions and particularly solid lyrical efforts are sprinkled over 12 tracks full of nostalgia for their refreshing eponymous debut album. Kasabian are most definitely back with a point to prove.

**** [out of 5]


What you need to know… Leicester rockers come of age.

First impressions… Until now, Kasabian’s loyal army of fans has been mainly limited to hormonal teenage lads smitten with the brilliantly named Serge Pizzorno’s jaunty neck ties, long hair and feisty attitude.

Happily, with their third album, the band should finally get the recognition they have been telling everyone is rightly theirs.

West Ryder… is jam-packed with Oasis-style sneers and 60s psychedelia, and infused with electronica that makes it sound somehow old and new at the same time.

From the feisty opener Underdog to the bitter-sweet Ladies And Gentleman (Roll The Dice) and the catchy Take Aim, this album is likely to be everyone’s summer soundtrack – and not just confined to sweaty boys’ bedrooms.

You’ll like this if you like… Oasis, The Verve, Primal Scream.

Our favourite track… Underdog.

Did you know? Bruce Springsteen has picked Kasabian to support him at this year’s Glastonbury festival.

OK! verdict… Loony tunes!


Kasabian: West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum

One of my very first reviews for CONFRONT Magazine was 2006’s ‘Empire’, the second album by British rockers, Kasabian.

Despite the fact that ‘Empire’ was widely viewed as an inferior sophomore release for Kasabian, I loved it, almost absolutely. “British Empire” was the one song on the album that I didn’t enjoy. I became an even bigger fan of Kasabian when I finally got to listen to their self-titled debut album.

‘West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum’ is much closer to their first album than their second. It is also their best to date. They return to the raw rhythm rock elements that defined their sound while better managing the sampling and electronic elements they experimented with on ‘Empire’. “Fast Fuse” is the best example of the former and “Vlad The Impaler” the latter.

Kasabian also continue their experimentalism, with songs like “Take Aim”, “Thick As Thieves”, and “West Ryder Silver Bullet”. This album accomplishes what ‘Empire’ fell short of: taking Kasabian into new territory, while maintaining a typical and uniquely ‘Kasabian’ sound.

On ‘Empire’, the song ‘British Legion” was out of place, because it was the only down-tempo track on the album, a clumsy little ballad that just didn’t work. Here on ‘West Ryder’ there are a couple of down-tempo, ballad-style songs, but they work in the context of the album, and they work well as stand-alones (though not, I hope, as singles), something “British Legion” could never do.

I already have my favourites: “Fast Fuse”, which sounds like it belongs in the opening credits of a Guy Ritchie London-set Mob movie; “Take Aim”, which reminds me of ‘OK Computer’ era Radiohead in its stripped-down intensity; and “Secret Alphabet” which is the type of song that, at five minutes and seven seconds, should be considerably longer when played live.

This album is both an improvement on the previous release and a return to form of their debut. This might not go on to be the definitive Kasabian album, but it’s going to be remembered as one of their best.

Kasabian: West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
Red Ink
Steve’s Rating: 10/10


Checking into the Asylum
West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum

Napoleon on lead vocals, a butcher priest on lead guitar and a lightbulb eating heretic slapping the bass. Sound like a lad rock band to you? No, I didn’t think so either.

From THAT album cover alone, it is safe to assume that Kasabian’s third album was never going to be a normal affair. Whilst the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Razorlight and The Kaiser Chiefs were resolutely sticking to their same old, same old routines, Sergio Pizzorno had locked himself away in a room in Leicester, dismantling instruments with The Pretty Things ‘S.F Sorrow’ running laps around his head.

It wasn’t just instruments that Pizzorno wanted to dismantle either, it was the perception certain members of the media had of his band. “Primal Scream rip offs”, “lad rock louts” and “Gallagher brother wannabe’s” are just some of the labels that have been unwillingly tagged to Kasabian over the past five years. The swagger and cocksure self belief they exude from every pore in interviews has obviously failed to impress the more timid music journalists, who comfortably dismissed Kasabian as a hooligan’s band without a second thought.

However, from the moment opener ‘Underdog’ rifles through the speakers in a swathe of Krautrock technicolour, it’s obvious we’re now dealing with a different animal. The opening track shows us a more mature Kasabian. It allows us to hear what ‘Empire’ could have sounded like had it’s recording not been rushed and overshadowed by Chris Karloff’s departure.

‘West Ryder…’ refuses to simply continue on in the same vain though. It evolves with each track. There’s Eastern strings on ‘Where did all the love go?’ followed by Neu! inspired instrumental ‘Swarfiga’ and then the groovy punk rock of ‘Fast Fuse’. All of which arrives within the first four songs. Indie rock third album 101 this ain’t.

Pizzorno’s decision to seek a second opinion on the album in the form of DJ Shadow and Gorillaz producer Dan ‘The Automator’ Nakamura has also proved to be an inspired one. Not so much for what he brought to the table, but rather what he took away from it. Layers have been stripped away, and in their place, Tom Meighan. Whereas ‘Kasabian’ and ‘Empire’ tended to rely on their crunching riffs and thundering basslines, ‘West Ryder…’ sees perhaps it’s most maniacal inmate let loose for the first time.

The mesmerising instrumentals are still present, but are now refined so Meighan can flex his vocality to devastating effects. One minute he’s ranting about being “Lucifer’s child” on ‘Fast Fuse’, the next he’s serenading Rosario Dawson with the line “Your beauty plays me just like a guitar string” on the magnificent ‘West Ryder/Silver Bullet’ before finally channeling his inner Jim Morrison on lead single ‘Fire’.

This “soundtrack to an imaginary film” as Pizzorno has dubbed it, reaches it’s pivotal scene just past the halfway point with the aforementioned ‘West Ryder/Silver Bullet’. Tom is joined by Sin City actress Rosario Dawson as they morph into a 21st century Bonnie and Clyde, performing a star crossed duet against the backdrop of a Sergio Leone Western landscape. Ennio Morricone would be proud.

The final scene is brought to a heart warming crescendo with the Serge sung ‘Happiness’. Written as a fresh faced 20 year old, it’s an ode to better times ahead complemented by a gospel choir reminiscent of Elvis’ Sun recordings. It’s a fittingly happy ending to a modern day rock and roll blockbuster.

Rating: 5/5

By Joe Baiamonte


A Personal Brand of Kick Ass

Kasabian has success written all over them with a variety of tracks that have you rocking from start to finish on their new album West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. Red Int/Red Ink drops the album June 9th.

This is a group that understands the value of variety and experimentation without leaping too far off the ledge we like to call reality. This is tangible, solid rocking – working in tandem with elegiac lyrics to create a luscious sound. The passion and versatility is evident with each and every tune, wowing crowds one chord at a time ranking them up there with other industrial poets of this generation.

Out of Leicester, Tom Meighan, Sergio Pizzorno, Chris Edwards and Ian Matthews are behind a sound that must be listened to in its entirety ushering listeners back to the a place when a good album was judged based on the ability to listen to the entire CD, the whole way through. This is a nice change in today’s industry where music lovers are being beaten with heavy sticks we like to call “single downloads.” Granted being able to pick and choose is a luxury but what happened to the bigger picture?

To understand the true meaning of a band, it is essential to listen to every last drop because experiencing the whole, will help you to appreciate the separates. Their genius can be found in all tracks but ‘Fire’, ‘Shoot the Runner’ and ‘Underdog’ are highly recommended. A collection of their songs and videos are available on their website. Kasabian will most certainly have you rocking till the break of dawn.



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