Alongside Bloc Party, Franz Ferdinand and Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian were part of the post-punk revival of a few years back. The British fivesome's self-titled debut, which came out over here in early 2005, was a hit, proffering a slew of singles and making Kasabian an "it" band for a week or so. But attention spans being what they are, the band's second record, Empire, was largely ignored, and Kasabian failed to stay afloat. So the question is, do we care that the band has written a third record when we didn't care about the second?
West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum veers in new sonic directions, embracing a more meditative, psychedelic aesthetic, rather than a synth-driven, dancey one. "Fire" is designed as the album's hooky, dance-floor number, but its chugging guitars and staccato beat are not quite as compelling as the band thinks they are. "Vlad the Impaler" is more engaging, with a surging beat and yelps from singer Tom Meighan. But the album focuses more on slower songs like Beatles-knockoff "Thick as Thieves" and the Keane-ish "Ladies and Gentlemen, Roll the Dice." It's unfair to expect Kasabian to release an album as good as their debut, but it's OK to wish they would. — Zemler