Kasabian // The Alchemist’s Euphoria // Album Review
Kasabian’s seventh album has hit the shelves with a sense of intrigue rather than excitement lingering around the band’s global army of fans. The Leicester rockers, who recently kicked frontman Tom Meighan out of the band, have returned to the scene with songwriter and lead guitarist Serge Pizzorno deputising as frontman.
Pizzorno demonstrated his capabilities as frontman during his brief solo sojourn under the guise of “The S.L.P.”. However, there has been a feeling within one contingent of Kasabian fans that the band simply cannot go on under its existing name without Meighan on-stage.
Many felt that Meighan’s absence would leave the band short-stacked. To use one of the most popular analogies in poker, which describes a player whose chip count is much lower compared with their opponents, Kasabian have always been something of a double-act between Meighan and Pizzorno both on-stage and in the studio. To allow one leg of that partnership to depart was a major call on the band’s behalf.
Pizzorno, alongside original band members Chris Edwards (bass) and Ian Matthews (drums), as well as long-time guitarist Tim Carter and newest addition Rob Harvey (guitar and backing vocals), has sought to dispel those views with a stirring seventh album.
How does The Alchemist’s Euphoria measure up with the band’s six previous releases? Does it prove there’s life left in the band after all?
The journey of The Alchemist’s Euphoria
The album opener, ‘Alchemist’, begins with the tranquil sound of crashing waves. It alludes to what Pizzorno has recently said in the media about taking the decision to ride the waves and keep the band going instead of disbanding it after Meighan’s misdemeanours. Although Pizzorno says Meighan’s departure did not directly influence any of this album’s lyrics, there are several instances where fans may feel Pizzorno’s lashing out at Meighan.
‘Alchemist’ includes the line “shut the door on your way if you’re leaving”. The rap-heavy ‘Scrvpture’ (pronounced “scripture”) includes “reach for the mic as I walk from the shadow”. Cynics might feel Pizzorno sees this as his opportunity to get the limelight he deserves, having been the band’s driving creative force since the second album Empire.
The third song, ‘Rocket Fuel’, has very similar trippy vibes to songs on previous albums like ‘Vlad the Impaler’ and ‘Stuntman’. The heavy beat and euphoric strings create an almost Middle Eastern vibe. That’s followed closely by ‘Strictly Old Skool’, which seems somewhat tame when paired alongside ‘Rocket Fuel’. However, it’s a hallmark of Kasabian’s albums that Pizzorno has always wanted their records to take fans on a journey, with peaks and troughs throughout.
Was ‘Alygatyr’ written when Meighan was still part of the band?
Track five, ‘Alygatyr’, is one of the most Kasabian-sounding songs on the record in our opinion. It almost sounds like it was written a few years ago, to be sung by Meighan. But it lacks Meighan’s swagger and dynamism. The album then takes a space-age twist, with a quartet of songs that ebb and flow, nodding to the out-of-body experiences felt by the band in the last few years. The most noteworthy is track seven, ‘The Wall’, which was also used by BBC Sport in celebration of England’s women’s soccer team, who won the EURO 2022 championships.
Track ten is ‘Chemicals’, one of Pizzorno’s most interesting ‘pop’ efforts in recent times. It comes across as something you would more likely have found in an album by Coldplay or The Killers rather than Kasabian. However, the high-octane chorus certainly has the hallmarks of a Kasabian track.
The closing track, ‘Letting Go’, is a melodic acoustic guitar-heavy song that concludes the album with something of a melancholic feel. Some might say this is rather apt given what the band has gone through in recent years. The line “if you just start letting go” is one that lingers long in the memory and it’s lyrics that are poignant for Pizzorno and co. The band has let go of its past and shed a new skin and, although it may have lost part of its fanbase along the way, The Alchemist’s Euphoria will provide plenty more anthems for festivals in the years ahead.