There are a lot of bitter guitar bands. Bitter because it’s no longer the mid noughties and blokes with guitars don’t get a free pass any more. Bitter because people just aren’t as into dull, thunking chord progressions as they used to be. Bitter because music is different now, because hip hop, RnB and rap are doing better than ever, because the music-consuming public is largely bored with what guitar bands have to offer in 2017.
Kasabian, making the full Oasis-coveted evolution from spunky, bigmouth lads to fuddy-duddy, dullard dads, are the latest guitar band to bemoan the state of modern guitar music. “It’s about saving guitar music from the the abyss!” Serge Pizzorno told Q Magazine in reference to their upcoming album, “Because it’s gone.” But has it? And even if it has – does it need to be resurrected? And if the answer is yes – is Kasabian the band to do it?
The answer to these questions is no, no and no. Kasabian’s new track, taken from their guitar-music-saving album, isn’t going to be saving anything. There’s nothing really wrong with ‘You’re In Love With A Psycho’, but there isn’t much right with it either. Essentially Kasabian-by-numbers, the new single is a scuzzy rock track with a chorus that sounds suspiciously similar to the far superior ‘To My Surprise‘ released by James last year. The track also falls victim to some seriously dodgy lyrics, the most eyebrow-raising being “I’m like the taste of macaroni on a seafood stick.” Is this really guitar music’s saviour?
Every year or so, another guitar-botherer from a band that’s past its prime crawls out of the woodwork to declare guitar music dead. But it isn’t – it’s just evolved. In the mid noughties, tired of the blokey lad rock offered by the likes of The Enemy, The Fratellis, The Pigeon Detectives, Reverend and the Makers, Razorlight, the Kaiser Chiefs and Editors, popular tastes changed quickly with very few guitar bands surviving the purge that saw all of the aforementioned groups fade into irrelevancy almost overnight. Kasabian were one of the guitar bands that retained their popularity, though if their new single is anything to go by, the Grim Reaper may soon come a-knocking.
Pizzorno is right that guitar music in its mid-noughties form is largely gone. But guitar music as a whole is still thriving. It can be heard in the indie pop of Blossoms, the artful psychedelica of Alt-J, the hazy 60s inspired rock of Tame Impala, the raucous thrash of Royal Blood and many, many more contemporary bands and musicians. If Kasabian think guitar music is in crisis, this is more a testament to their own ignorance than to guitar music itself.
Pizzorno’s comments are frustrating given that Kasabian have, at least in my opinion, always been one of the more interesting guitar bands. They have regularly exceeded and subverted expectations, delivering strong albums packed with even stronger singles again and again. However Kasabian, much like Muse and Oasis, have always had a rather inflated sense of their own importance. What they need to learn now is that guitar music has changed but is not in any danger of falling into an abyss. And even if it were – no one would be calling Kasabian to save it.