In today’s age of many an ambiguous album title, The Alchemist’s Euphoria is a pretty spot on one when it comes to Kasabian’s latest record. When the lead singer, Tom Meighan, left the band in 2020 after being convicted of assaulting his wife, the Leicestershire outfit were in need of a transformation. A transmutation of the raw rock materials they had left – although this time with Serge Pizzorno at the helm.
To say it was a complete mystery as to what a Serge-led Kasabian would deliver would have been something of a mischaracterisation. In 2019, the shaggy-haired rocker launched his solo project The S.L.P – although in truth the project’s solo eponymous album didn’t give much to firmly hold onto (even if ‘Nobody Else’ and the Little Simz-featuring ‘Favourites’ remain solid tracks).
What’s clear about The Alchemist’s Euphoria, however – whether it be subliminal or intended – is its expression of a strong desire to eject the band into a new orbit, sonically and thematically. The solar system has long been a symbol of our desire for something greater, larger than ourselves.
Indeed, this is an album all about the desire for expansion, with Kasabian showing both their longing for, and accomplishment in, harnessing something new – a way of making their seventh album sound as compellingly relevant as the first.
Take, rather obviously, the track ‘Star Gazer’, albeit three-quarters of the way through, which begins with Serge “Stargazing tonight, looking out over the horizon / Waves crashing so high, I was waiting, waiting to ride them”. Its riveting electronic whirring combines with Serge’s elongated vocals, producing an almost Panda Bear-like song.
In the plodding, piano-backed ‘THE WALL’ – a song that was apparently first written about having a hangover (and indeed is my favourite on the album) – Serge is equally “Sat in the departure lounge / Waiting for the check”, waiting for take-off.
There’s fun to be had, too – or euphoria, rather (I did say the title rang true). ‘ROCKET FUEL’ doesn’t just add to the space theme, propelling the album with an energy equally fitting of its namesake, but has a rugged charm without being excessively macho. The twinkly eyed, psychedelic meandering of ‘Tuve Spike’, meanwhile, with its electronic bassline rumbling beneath, offers a rising ascendancy in both body and spirit.
There’s Kasabian of-old, too. In fact, as if to satisfy the fanbase they’ve rabble-roused since drumming ‘Club Foot’ into their ears on their self-titled 2004 debut, three of the four tracks so far released ahead of the album have embodied much the same spirit.
Take ‘ALYGATYR’, which doesn’t overthink in rhyming its title with “radiator” and could easily have slotted into either of Jack White’s recent releases this year. ‘CHEMICALS’, equally, bears an explosive charge.
Thankfully, for all the thematic exploration of ‘Space’ – which itself is the title of one of the interludes, a 49-second wall of synths – there’s a soft landing. ‘Letting Go’ resembles the kind of album closer of ‘Battery In Your Leg’ on Blur’s Think Tank – an album which also experienced and thus dwelled upon the departure of a band member (guitarist Graham Coxon in Blur’s case).
This acoustic conclusion is even a possible ode to the departed Meighan. Whilst in today’s quick-to-judge world, he’ll likely be forever banished for his past actions by the moral imposers of our age, he can still be sorely missed by his band – who, in fact, were the ones who asked him to leave.
“Got my eyes set on you / But you keep on slipping away,” Serge sings softly on the track, “You can’t seem to catch a break / I know it’s hard believing / But our days are yet to go / You’ve got time to work it out.”
In the meantime, Serge is the stargazer aboard this new quest. And by the sounds of it, he may well have just stumbled upon something new – like those euphoric alchemists, all those years ago.