Following the commercial and critical success of their previous album, 'The West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum,' the album that elevated Kasabian's profile into festival headliner status. 'Velociraptor!' for many marks crunch time for the band. The time to seize their moment and prove to many of their distractors that all their swagger and talk can be matched with the classic album guitarist and songwriter Serge Pizzorno has claimed this (and every other new Kasabian release) to be, and firmly establish themselves as modern greats.
The main thing to note from this album is its change in mood from anything they've released before. It's the sound of a band desperately seeking to stray away from the 'lad rock' tag that has persisted to follow them throughout their career (although Kasabian have always offered something more than this, and that label is wholly undeserved). By the time the strings kick in on the opening track, the brilliant 'Let's Roll Like We Used To', you could be forgiven for thinking you're listening to the latest release from The Last Shadow Puppets - 'Club Foot' this isn't!
Another thing that jumps out whilst listening to Velociraptor!, Is how strongly it wears its influences on its sleeve. The Led Zeppelin infused 'Turkish Acid Bath (Shelter From The Storm),' with its middle eastern strings, is the most experimental piece the band has ever released and they somehow manage to pull it off... Just. Elsewhere there's a strong nod to The Beatles, such as on the superb track 'La Fe?erte' which sounds like a rebooted 'Strawberry Fields Forever' for the 21st century, Even if its lyrics do verge a little on the trite. There's even Kraftwerk like synthesisers at one point! (I Hear Voices). In the most part this all works brilliantly, the notable exception being on 'Man Of Simple Pleasures', which sounds just too much like an Oasis cast off and for an album pushing to sound something deeper than that, is undoubtedly its low point (along with the drab closer 'Neon Noon'.)
Elsewhere some elements of 'vintage' Kasabian do remain. The ridiculous sounding title tracks chorus refrain of 'Velociraptor, he's gonna find ya! He's gonna get ya!' will be sung at festivals worldwide come June next Summer. Then there's teaser track 'Switchblade Smile' with its scuzzy bass - a theme which is continued on the superb 'Re-Wired', which with its joyous two fists in the air chorus, is the albums' highlight.
Ultimately it's an album that will split their fans, some may even argue they've played it safe. It may well lack a massive anthem on the scale of a 'Fire' or 'Empire'. However, 'Velociraptor!' does mark a progression in the Kasabian story that for the most part is mainly for the better.
The general consensus may be 'it's good. But, it's no West Ryder...' And that may well be true, but there's still an awful lot to love about this album. It's a mighty fine piece. Just don't expect an album of 'Processed Beats'.