The album is titled ‘West Ryder Pauper Launatic Asylum’, with Kasabian as the lunatic doctor. The audiences are to hide inside their notorious shelter and rock out.
With a triumphant second album ‘Empire’ behind, lead singer Tom Meighan, co-lead-singer and guitar player (also creative brain) Serge Pizzorno, base guitar player Chris Edwards and drummer Ian Matthews make their transition to the next stage. Serge recalled the period with a note of unease, as they were desperate to make new steps yet under pressure of making ten ‘pop songs’. Eventually, Serge decided to let go and went with what felt right.
Serge explained, ‘We spent two years on the production of this new album, which is inspired by the film ‘Holy Mountain’ by Alejandro Jodorowsky. This is a tribute soundtrack.’ West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum really did exist, with an official name as ‘The West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum’. It is a shelter for people suffer from substance abuse issues, a place where even slumdogs would be taken care of.
The new album ‘WRPLA’, initially produced by Serge, was complete last summer. He brought the project to a sudden halt, and invited Dan the Automator (producer of Gorillaz’s 2001 album ‘Gorillaz’, also half of Handsome Boy Modeling School) to replace his role as the producer. Serge particularly admires his work in the DJ Shadow album ‘Entroducing’. Looking back, Serge’s work in ‘WRPLA’ as a producer adds up to approximately seventy percent, and Dan thirty. Despite of the percentage, Dan filled a vital position in the album.
The album cover of ‘WRPLA’ gives away a hint of the music inside. The band members dress in individual style, but somehow in a harmony. Each of them has their own ‘voice’ in the album, yet they come together as one. If we see a glimpse of Kasabian’s ambition in ‘Empire’, we see the more elaborate expression of that ambition in the new album. It comes from the band’s understanding of their best capacities and the essence of their first album.
‘Underdogs’, the songs for Sony Bravia commercial, and ‘Fat Fuse’, are very close to the vibe of Kasabian’s first album. ‘Where Did All the Love Go?’ conveys a Middle-East flavour; ‘Take Aim’ is a self-claimed ‘dark’ song, with a striking strings intro; Acoustic ‘Thick as Thieves’ and ballad ‘Ladies and Gentelman (Roll the Dice)’ are nostalgic to the 1960s era, reminding one of their acquaintance Oasis; ‘West Ryder Silver Bullet’ is enhanced with Chinese strings element, plus Rosario Dawson’s vocal (famous for her role in ‘Sin City’ and ‘Death Proof’ directed by Tarantino), makes a distinctive sound for a romantic duet. The finale track ‘Happiness’ encourages one to peek out from the current grey outlook to hope for the brighter future.
With heaps of psychedelic and ecstasy in Kasabian’s melody, the best qualities of the vocal of Tom and Serge are at work in this album. All in all, ‘WRPLA’ makes a rich soundscape with many lighthearted moments — a soul asylum.