It seems churlish to reconcile a band’s fifth studio album with a singular live date but it is almost impossible to discern 48:13 from the Kasabian’s forthcoming Glastonbury headline slot. Any initial fears that the band might be lost on the Pyramid Stage should be laid to rest sharply with the festival-sized anthems that colour an album peppered with infectious grooves, throbbing rhythms and frenetic, hyperactive riffs. It is a snapshot of everything the band has done right since their self-titled debut album a lifetime ago.
It feels familiar, though never stale: an authentic evolution of sound that winds its way through the indie-club beats of Kasabian to the arena and festival-sized anthems of West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum and Velociraptor!. Never having lacked confidence, Pizzorno and Meighan allow this to drive 48:13 from the fuzzy opening track ‘(Shiva)’. “What you see is what you get from me!” bellows Meighan on the album’s highlight ‘Doomsday’ as the boisterous zeal that has afforded the band the reputation as Oasis’ natural successors seeps through. The calls of “We’re in ecstasy” on ‘Bumblebee’ are a festival chant waiting to happen, whilst ‘Eez-eh’, ‘Treat’ and ‘Stevie’ are simply superb.
Yet Kasabian have always lacked the imagination for genuine brilliance and this is evident on 48:13 too. It attempts social commentary, posing pseudo-philosophical questions that mean absolutely nothing. “A wise man told me we are born with wings but never taught to fly, don’t you wonder why?” asks guest-rapper Suli Breaks on ‘Glass’. Not quite. The now-infamous horse-meat burgers/murders rhyming of the lead single ‘Eez-eh’ prompts a wry smile in the midst of the album’s powerhouse climax, but it is as vapid lyrically as ‘Explodes’ claims that you would rather die on your feet than your knees, as well as Breaks’ call to arms: “When did we stop believing, when did we stop marching?”
This is an album that was curated to speak for itself. Essentially released without a title (48:13 is the length) and song-titles (hard copies sport a cover art of track lengths, it is only upon consulting iTunes and Spotify that the tracks are given names) and plain pink cover art, it is an endeavour in the band exploring the limits of their musical education. It feels less daring than West Pauper Lunatic Asylum, less frenzied than Velociraptor! and less rhythmic than Kasabian but is still a catalogue of everything Kasabian do right: looping rhythms and natural grooves, clunky and disjointed riffs, spots of psychedelia drenched in 1990s-ecstasy inspired techno. Boorish, debauched and self-obsessed in all the right measures, 48:13 is a band at their best. The biggest stage awaits and Kasabian are more than ready to take it.