Album Review: Kasabian – The Alchemist’s Euphoria  

Serge Pizzorno returns with Kasabian 2.0 and an album that confidently picks all of the new directions at once

The first thing you hear on The Alchemist’s Euphoria is the sound of the sea. Two years ago, Serge Pizzorno sat alone on the beach wondering if Kasabian still had a future. 

“I went to see my sister who lives by the sea,” says Pizzorno, speaking out for the first time about the moment Tom Meighan left the band he started with Serge back in 1997. “I just sat there, looking out. It was just me looking out to sea, this vast space, and I imagined us in this little boat, huge f**king waves crashing in. It’s like, do you get in the boat? Do you risk it all to see what you can discover? Or do you sit on the shore and go, ‘No, I’m scared. I’m just gonna sit here and disappear?’”

Whatever Pizzorno saw on that horizon back in 2020 now finds its way crashing into The Alchemist’s Euphoria  an album that pushes as far forward as it stretches back. Fronting the band alone (still backed by Chris Edwards and Ian Matthews, now joined by Tim Carter on lead guitar), Pizzorno brings Kasabian right back to the hacienda house roots of their 2004 debut, and on to the synth-heavy cosmic R&B future that now sits in front of them. 

Now that David Baddiel has suggested ‘Three Lions’ should be retired after England’s recent Euro 2022 win, Kasabian would once have been a shoe-in to write the next anthem – having spent 25 years soundtracking Match Of The Day with stadium-sized lad-rock. But that was then and this is now. The new Kasabian seems much more interested in scoring a space rave than a world-cup.

Kasabian - SCRIPTVRE (Official Video)

Just listen to ‘SCRIPTVRE’. Somehow neatly balancing hip-hop autotunes, Hans Zimmer strings, Arabian samples and a one-finger synth solo that sounds like something out of The Clangers, it still finds space to close on a classic piano outro. 

‘ROCKET FUEL’ quickly follows with Kasbah house beats and Prodigy drops, with the “Euphoria” of the title clearly scribbled on Post-It notes all over the studio as the album quickly builds straight to something that only sounds at home in a field at 4am.  

‘ALYGATYR’ is as close as the new Kasabian gets to the old Kasabian, but it’s still far less worried about getting played on the radio with a swell of experimental sprawl that carries it off more comfortably into the record’s prog interludes. 

With tracks written in diphthongs and ALL CAPS, The Alchemist’s Euphoria shouts and swirls in equal measure, with a gentler mid-section getting personal and abstract on the comedown before STARGAZR brings it back up again with a Casio sci-fi rave built on Vangelis aspirations and future-scape visualisers.

Elsewhere, things get as deep as you’re willing to go. Apparently guided by a series of self-imposed rules that forbid any lyrics about the band itself, Kasabian still manage to work the elephant in the room into the subtext.

Kasabian - CHEMICALS (Official Video - 3am in Les-tah)

‘THE WALL’ brings in a sentimental indie chorus that speaks to a loss of control and personal rifts, but it’s also possibly about not being able to order a pizza, so who knows? ‘CHEMICALS’, though, seems less ambiguous, with lines like, “Whatever don’t kill ya makes ya stronger” and “everybody’s praying for ya” coming right before the self-anointing coda of, “we can make it if you like”. 

Closing on the sweet pre-school strum of ‘LETTING GO’, it’s maybe more obvious than ever what The Alchemist’s Euphoria is really all about. “You’ve got time to work it out… even if your head’s not right it will be alright if you just start letting go”, lilts Pizzorno, before the sound of the sea starts ebbing back on the shore again. 

Tasked with striking the right balance between the new band and the old, and between addressing his best friend’s headlines without letting them overshadow his own, it’s clear who the real alchemist is here. The old Kasabian has gone, but the future now looks just as bright as the past. 

The Alchemist’s Euphoria is out on Friday 12 August. Kasabian are playing UK and Ireland dates between October 21 and November 5. Tickets are available here.