KASABIAN – Empire (Sony BMG)

Kasabian have been bragging about the follow-up to their eponymous debut for some months now, and when you build yourself up like that then you better be able to deliver the goods. I actually played their first album again recently and for some reason it didn’t sound as good as I remembered it, so I came to this one with some trepidation. They certainly kick it off in fine style, with the title track and recent single ‘Shoot The Runner’ both being stomping rockers, giving us our first taste of their new ‘glam rock’ style. ‘Sun Rise Light Shines’ is another up-tempo rocker, and it sounds to me as though they have decided to played down the dance element of their music, which was originally a such large part of their sound. We are left with a surprisingly good rock band, and while ‘Apnoea’ and ‘By My Side’ might still have a Stone Roses vibe to them, the overall sound is much beefier and you can hear just how much the band have progressed in nearly every track. ‘Stuntman’ has a pulsing electro feel to it, with Tom Meighan’s vocals now more expressive and able to inject a passion into the lyrics that was missing before. ‘British Legion’ is a rare respite – an acoustic ballad sung by guitarist Serge Pizzorno, and it lets you catch your breath before the onslaught of closing track ‘Doberman’. Starting fairly low-key, with a laconic vocal over some bluesy backing, it gradually builds, with the addition of some Ennio Morricone style trumpet and an orchestral backing, into a full blown epic that will rival Muse’s ‘Knights Of Cydonia’ for the most over the top rock song on the year. It will be interesting to hear this again in a year or so and see if it fares better than their debut, but as this seems to be a much more rounded album from a more confident band then I have a feeling that it will still sound just as good.