[Politics] Senator Albert Field – The 70s Version of Oakeshott and Windsor

With leadership challenges, minority Government and a pick-and-mix balance-of-power to manage, the last few years have been tumultuous for Federal Labor. But recent years are a walk in the park compared to the rocky road that befell Gough Whitlam back in the Seventies. Clinging to power with a slender majority, Whitlam faced an opposition hellbent on blocking progress – and with the numbers in the Senate to do it.

Let’s re-wind clock a little bit. It is December 1972, and Australians are going to the polls. The Liberal-National Coalition have been in power for over twenty years. But just like in 2007, there is a mood for change. The Labor campaign famously proclaims that ‘It’s Time’. The public agrees, and Gough Whitlam becomes the first ALP Prime Minister since 1951.

But it is not all good news for the Labor Party. Senate terms had not expired, and there was no Senate election that year. Despite being defeated in the House of Representatives, the Coalition will continue to enjoy an Upper House majority. For Labor, it means the Prime Minister will have to pass bills through a Senate controlled by the Opposition.

By May 1974, the Whitlam Government had become baulked by Coalition repeatedly blocking several bills (including the Health Insurance Bill, the precursor to today’s Medicare). Needing a Senate majority more than ever, Whitlam calls a double-dissolution election. With that, Australians went back to the polls, returning the Government with a reduced majority of five-seats. Crucially though, in the Senate, Labor could not win the 31-seats it needed. Neither could the Coalition though, and each party took 29-seats apiece in the 60-seat chamber.

Just like their Labor colleagues 35-years later, the new Government of 1974 and beyond would have to manage a balance-of-power if it were to last. The Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor of 1974 were Independent MP, Michael Townley, and Liberal Movement MP, Steele Hall. The knife-edge numbers of the Senate were going to be crucial to the longevity of the Whitlam Government.

Field’s appointment from obscurity was integral in the dissolution of Gough Whitlam’s Government

It did not take long for the Senate composition to change. In February 1975, Michael Townley joined the ranks of the Liberal Party, increasing their numbers to 30. As he had already voted with the Liberals, this change was not greatly significant. A greater change occurred the same month when the New South Wales Labor Senator, Lionel Murphy, stood down to take up a role as justice with the High Court. The Constitution tasked Tom Lewis, the New South Wales Premier, with appointing his replacement. Convention dictated that he would simply approve the Labor nomination to fill the casual vacancy. However, Lewis was not constitutionally bound to do so, and seeking the opportunity to stack Senate numbers in favour of the Coalition, he instead appointed an Independent, Cleaver Bunton.

Surprisingly, Bunton retained his political independence, refusing to bow to Coalition pressure to block the Whitlam Government’s supply bills. But a new precedent had been set, and when Labor Senator Bertie Milliner died a few months later, Queensland Premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen followed the lead of his southern counterpart. The Country Party premier openly despised Whitlam and rejected the Labor’s chosen nominee to fill the vacancy, instead making the bizarre appointment of renegade ALP member, Albert Field.

Although he had been a member of the Labor Party for 30-years, the obscure floor-polisher from Brisbane was not politically active. Ultra-conservative in his views, Field was at odds with Gough Whitlam and made clear his disdain for the Prime Minister. Particularly offended by Whitlam’s comments that Bjelke-Petersen was a “bible bashing bastard”, the deeply-religious Field declared that “Mr Whitlam will never get a vote from me”.

Enraged at his appointment against their wishes, Labor expelled Field, and launched a High Court challenge over his eligibility to serve. His appointment and subsequent absence handed the Coalition a 30-29 Senate majority (with Bunton and Hall voting with the Government. This ‘majority’ was enough to hand the Coalition the means to deny supply bills. The rest is history, and on Remembrance Day 1975 the Governor General dissolved the Whitlam Government that had in deadlock with the opposition, unable to pass supply bills.

For a few months, Albert Field, the obscure Senator from Queensland, was at the forefront of Australian politics. The interview aired on the ABC’s Four Corners in 1975, and reveals a man staunch in his opposition and disgust towards homosexuality, abortion, and pornography. “I dislike it – really dislike it”, he tells the reporter, adding that “(the) House of Parliament is meant for better things than that”.

Asked about his hobbies, the Senator comments that he is into dancing and soccer, amongst other things. Movies? Not so much. Last time he went to a film, the Senator recalls, he walked out after being disgusted by scenes of  “men in the nude, bathing in the nude, and, uh — playing leapfrog over each other”. Quite how the Senator ended up seeing such a film in the first place remains a mystery, but the overtness of his disgust is clear.

After the Whitlam Government was dissolved, Australians voted again in December 1975 – the fourth Federal Election of the decade. Field stood for re-election, but was defeated despite an overall swing to the Coalition. His Senate term expired on June 30, 1976, and with it a bizarre chapter in Australian history ended.

Forty-years later, the Senator’s attitudes seem stuffy, and archaic. A rich vein of ugly conservatism still flows in this country – just look at the electoral success of the Christian Democrats, Family First, and Katter’s Australia Party in recent years. But thankfully, overtly backwards views like Field’s have largely been reduced to the fringes of parliament, embraced mostly by minor parties, obscure religious groups.

For all the negativity about the state of the nation, and for all the need to continue the fight against backwards-thinking, sometimes it is prudent to stop and remember how far we have come.

[Concert Review] Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Enmore Theatre, Sydney

Enmore Theatre, Sydney, January 23, 2012

August 28, 2009. It is the first night of the three-day Rock en Seine music festival in Paris. Britpop legends Oasis are backstage, preparing for their headlining slot when an argument breaks out between Liam and Noel Gallagher. It is not the first time an argument has derailed Oasis, but it will be the last. One smashed-up guitar later, and Noel storms out, quitting the band for good. “It’s with some sadness and great relief to tell you that I quit Oasis tonight”, he tells the press. The show is cancelled. Oasis do not exist anymore.

Two-and-a-bit years later and Noel Gallagher is now a solo artist under the Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds moniker. With a chart-topping and critically acclaimed solo album to his name, the former-Oasis man is on Australian shores as part of the Big Day Out festival. Tonight’s show is one of two Big Day Out sideshows, and the first chance for Sydney-siders to enjoy Noel Gallagher the solo artist.

The Enmore air conditioning seems to be set to ‘Arctic’ tonight – the large contingent of rusted-on British fans must feel right at home. Blended amongst the Brits are a surprising number of young faces. Some you suspect were not even alive when songs like Live Forever and Wonderwall first filled the airwaves. This is no nostalgia event.

Support act duties are left to former Triple J Unearthed Feature Artist, Deep Sea Arcade. Playing ahead of such a big name can be daunting for a young band, and the Sydney five-piece seem a little nervous. But, they make a decent go of it and perform a set of  reverberated indie tunes that hold the audience’s attention.

Deep Sea Arcade leave the stage and the crowd down the front begins to swell. The short wait is sound-tracked by a tasty selection of tunes over the PA. Pre-show music is rarely more than incidental background noise, but Phil Smith, the High Flying Birds tour DJ, has put together an eclectic mix of tunes. Tracks by The Pogues, Enrico Morricone, Primal Scream and The Gun all get a spin, as does the trippy version of Noel’s own If I Had a Gun. This particular mix is set to feature on his collaborative album with Amorphous Androgynous later this year.

To the strains of If I Had a Gun, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds enter the stage. Dressed in a crisp-white shirt and well-fitted corduroys, Noel is met by a chorus of chants that sound like they are coming from football terraces: “Noel! Noel! Noel! Noel!”. Just a few hours after the show it would be announced that Noel would be receiving this year’s NME ‘Godlike Genius’ award. Given the Messiah-like reception he receives at the Enmore, this is an apt title.

Noel begins the show with (It’s Good) To Be Free, an old Oasis B-side. Whether by design or coincidence it represents his split from Oasis and subsequent freedoms as a solo artist. “But it’s good, it’s good, it’s good to be free…” he sings. Being free has seemingly done the world of good for a rejuvenated Noel Gallagher.

In Oasis, Noel always stood to the right of stage, in the shadows of front-man Liam. But now it is his turn to stand in the spotlight. He is no Mick Jagger, but he is comfortable, confident and engaging in his own way .He has the crowd in the palm of his hand. There is plenty of banter with audience members in the front row, and lots of words of thanks and winks to the crowd. For much of the night, Kasabian’s Tom Meighan who can be seen drinking and clapping along off to the side of the show. Noel has rarely seemed so happy on stage.

The High Flying Birds band are largely anonymous, but that is their part in the show and they perform to requirements. Interestingly, this is not the first time drummer Jeremy Stacey and guitarist Tim Smith have shared a stage in Australia – they toured and performed in the Finn Brothers’ band back in 2004-05.

The set is heavily weighted towards the new century, with almost all of the new album is played, and just six-songs that pre-date the last decade. Breakaway solo acts can often leave audiences harking for old favourites, but there is none of that tonight. The new songs are warmly received and the crowd sings a long. Everybody’s on the Run and AKA…What a Life! get the warmest reception of the new songs (“I’m going to take that tiger outside for a ride” from the latter is sung with particularly gusto).

There are some solo artists – early Morrissey and Weller spring to mind – who go solo and turn their backs on the past in an attempt to carve out a new path. Noel Gallagher is not one of them. As much as he embraces his new solo career, he also keeps one eye on the rear-view mirror, delivering a selection of Oasis tracks. Highlights include acoustic renditions of Wonderwall and Supersonic, a stomping Mucky Fingers, and a full-band version of Talk Tonight.

By the time the main set ends, the Enmore is buzzing with Noel-induced euphoria. The encore is an all Oasis-affair. Little by Little and the Importance of Being Idle lead into show-closing Don’t Look Back in Anger. By now the Enmore has become a raucous choir. The audience sing-a-long fills the room and even the man himself seems genuinely over-awed. You sense he will never tire of hearing an audience sing these songs back at him.

No one leaves the venue without a smile on their face. An unforgettable night. There can be no question at all – Noel Gallagher has the creative longevity to join the pantheon of all-time great British rock musicians.


(It’s Good) To Be Free
Mucky Fingers
Everybody’s on the Run
Dream On
If I Had a Gun…
The Good Rebel
The Death of You and Me
Freaky Teeth
(I Wanna Live in a Dream in My) Record Machine
AKA… What a Life!
Talk Tonight
Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks
AKA… Broken Arrow
Half The World Away
(Stranded On) The Wrong Beach
Little By Little
The Importance of Being Idle
Don’t Look Back In Anger

[Movie Review] The Iron Lady

Great Britain experienced a tumultuous eleven years under the conservative rule of Margaret Thatcher. During her years as Prime Minister Britain sank into recession, unemployment reached record highs, the manufacturing industry disappeared, and strikes were widespread. Supporters of Thatcher claim that her Government modernised an ailing economic power and ushered in radical but necessary reforms. On the contrary, her critics claim that these reforms came at a great social cost, with a rapidly widening gap between rich and poor. One thing everyone can agree on is that the ‘Iron Lady’ was a controversial and deeply divisive Prime Minister.

Directed by Phyllida Lloyd, The Iron Lady is a bio-pic about Thatcher, with Meryl Streep playing the Prime Minister. Much of the film is actually set in the present, with a frail and elderly Thatcher bumbling around her residence in the grips of dementia-hell. Thatcher is often shown hallucinating, conversing with her long-deceased husband, Denis (played by Jim Broadbent). The camera often pulls back to the perspective of a third party in the room (usually Thatcher’s daughter, Carol, played by Olivia Colman), revealing that the former-PM is talking to herself. These uncomfortable scenes are repeated, punctuated by Thatcher recalling memories from her career. The flashbacks cover her political awakening (in these early periods the young Denis is played by Harry Lloyd; the young Margaret by Alexandra Roach), rise as a political force and her years as Prime Minister.

Meryl Streep is mesmerising as Thatcher. She does not just play her. She is her. Not only does she look uncannily like Thatcher, she has captured the mannerisms, voice and steely resolve. Together it paints a picture of just how firm and decisive the Prime Minister could be. Do not be surprised if Streep adds a second Oscar for Best Actress to her mantlepiece for this effort.

As good as Streep’s performance is, it is not enough to lift The Iron Lady into the echelon of great political bio-pics. Given the controversy surrounding her years in office, you would expect a Margaret Thatcher bio-pic to make some kind of statement about her contribution to Great Britain. At the very least, you would expect that such a film would adequately explore the pivotal decisions and moments, allowing the viewer to make up their own mind. The Iron Lady does neither effectively.

While Thatcher’s real-life children, Mark and Carol, have described the film as a ‘left-wing fantasy’, the reality is The Iron Lady does not take sides at all. It does not delve anywhere near deep enough into her career to offer a stance or even implore the viewer to decide for themselves. Pivotal moments are rarely covered in more than a passing montage or a brief soundbite. The Cold War and her relationship with her ‘philosophical soul-mate’, Ronald Reagen, is ignored almost entirely, while public opposition to her leadership is reduced to brief clips of protests. Only the Falklands conflict of 1982 receives more than a passing look.

Indeed, for a film that is by definition about politics, there is very little politics. Really, too much of the film is spent showing Thatcher today, as a frail, old lady. While these scenes do effectively contrast her strength and iron will as a leader with the reality of old-age, they come at the expense of any analysis of her time in office. They also leave the viewer with an overwhelming sense of sympathy towards an ill, elderly woman, distracting viewers from passing judgement on the merits of her career. The scenes of Thatcher today could have been reduced to bookends at the start and finish of the film.

Despite these flaws, The Iron Lady is still a film worth seeing. For one, Meryl Streep’s performance is worth the price of admission alone. Secondly, while the story does not quite hit the back of the net, it is still a decent offering that effectively illustrates Margaret Thatcher’s iron will and hints at the turmoil of 1980s Britain.

There is a fantastic film waiting to be made about Margaret Thatcher. This is not quite it.

The Verdict
Meryl Streep shines in this slightly disappointing bio-pic

[Music] My Soundtrack to 2011 – Top Ten Songs

This is my soundtrack to 2011 – my ten favourite songs of the year just gone. In putting this list together, I gave myself two rules – first, the songs had to be officially released during the 2011 calendar year, and; second, I have limited myself to a maximum of one song per artist.

The List:

10.Somebody That I Used To Know’ – Gotye featuring Kimbra

It was impossible to go anywhere in the second half of 2011 without hearing ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’. An absolute ear-worm of a guitar riff (sampled from Luiz Bonfa’s ‘Seville’), haunting vocal contributions from Kimbra and deeply raw lyrics propelled the song to number 1, where it stayed for eight weeks. The short-priced favourite to take out the Triple J Hottest 100. Really, how could any other song win?

The Black Keys’ ‘Gold on the Ceiling’ could easily be a long lost Bad Company B-Side

9. ‘Gold on the Ceiling’ – The Black Keys

You almost wonder if these retro-rockers had a time machine and went back to the 1970s to steal this thumping rocker that sounds like Paul Rodgers backed by George Thorogood’s Destroyers. Driven by a fuzzy organ riff, ‘Gold on the Ceiling’ could be quietly slipped into a classic rock playlist without anyone noticing.

8. ‘Baby Says’ – The Kills

Alison Mosshart’s vocals, bluesy guitars, and crisp reverb came together like a jigsaw on this track from the Kills’ latest album, Blood Pressures. ‘Baby Says’ somehow manages to sound equal parts gritty and beautiful at the same time.

7. ‘You’ – Glasvegas

A richer and darker effort than their debut album, Glasvegas’ Euphoric Heartbreak served up a lush wall-of-sound filled with buzzing Jesus and Mary Chain guitars and gloomy, miserable lyrics. Unlike its predecessor, Euphoric Heartbreak did not offer up any obvious singles, with the songs best enjoyed as part of the overall album. Nonetheless, ‘You’ received heavy rotation on my iTunes playlists this year.

6. ‘The Roller’ – Beady Eye

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds may have stolen the post-Oasis limelight, but brother Liam’s Beady Eye group also delivered the goods in 2011 with a stronger-than-expected debut album. Different Gear, Still Speeding was anchored by the lead single and best track, ‘The Roller’, a song Liam Gallagher described as “T Rex doing Instant Karma” – and that is exactly what it is.

Foster the People will be bringing their catchy tunes to Big Day Out across Australia and NZ

5. ‘Helena Beat’ – Foster The People

‘Pumped Up Kicks’ was the obvious highlight from Foster the People’s 2011 debut album (Torches), but as that song had been released as a single in 2010 it is not eligible for inclusion on this list. Instead, ‘Helena Beat’ steps up to the plate to represent one of the most enjoyable albums of the year.

4. ‘Switchblade Smiles’ – Kasabian

The boldest song on their disjointed fourth album, ‘Switchblade Smiles’ saw Kasabian push their boundaries and fully embrace the electronic influences they have always hinted at. Channeling Nine Inch Nails and the Prodigy, but with that trademark Sergio Pizzorno guitar, ‘Switchblade Smiles’ leaves you wishing the Leicester lad-rockers had been as bold elsewhere on the slightly disappointing Velociraptor!.

3.AKA… What A Life!’ – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Blasting straight out of Noel Gallagher’s secret discotheque, AKA… What a Life! was the most exciting moment on Noel Gallagher’s otherwise predictable (but superb) solo effort. A piano-driven, almost house-sounding track, it is just waiting to be remixed into a dance floor hit. Fingers crossed that his sophomore effort – a collaboration with Amorphous Androgynous – offers up more songs outside of familiar Noel territory.

2. ‘If You Wanna’ – The Vaccines

As one of the most infectious albums of 2011, What Did You Expect from the Vaccines? provided a volley of catchy songs. ‘If I Wanna’ is arguably the stickiest of them all – I challenge anyone to listen to it without getting “but if you wanna come back it’s alright, it’s alright / it’s alright if you wanna come back” stuck in your head. You can’t.

Arctic Monkeys did their best 1960s impression with songs like ‘Black Treacle’

1. ‘Black Treacle’ – Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkey’s fourth album, Suck it and See, completes the band’s re-invention from NME-darlings to genuine all-time greats. Moving on from the swampy sounds of Humbug, Suck it and See introduced jangly guitars and a sound that recalls the Byrds and Echo and the Bunnymen. Album highlights are numerous – the title track and ‘The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala’ spring to mind. In the end there can only be one winner and the nod goes to ‘Black Treacle’. Pop perfection. Best enjoyed on vinyl.

[Movie Review] The Inbetweeners

The Inbetweeners was a hit British comedy which followed four awkward school boys and their miserable attempts at pulling girls against the drab, bleary backdrop of teenage life in the suburbs. Narrated by the main character, the unbelievably-awkward Will McKenzie (Simon Bird), the gang also included lovesick Simon Cooper (Joe Thomas), clueless Neil Sutherland (Blake Harrison), and the sewer-mouthed, sex-obsessed Jay Cartwright (James Buckley).

The Inbetweeners Movie is the final chapter in the story, and picks up where the series left off. The boys are graduating from high school, but there is little to celebrate. Will has just found out his father has re-married and Jay’s grandfather has just died. But the greatest sorrow is reserved for Simon, who is distraught after being dumped by classmate Carli D’Amato (Emily Head) – the girl he had finally got together with after lusting after her through the TV series.

Neil is on hand to lift the mood, offering Simon his condolences – “it’s alright Si, anyone would miss those tits”. Jay is more helpful, and suggests a boys trip away, promising a week of “sun, sea, sand, sex, boobs, clunge, sex, fanny, minge and sex”.

Of course, reality is a little different, and after checking in to their vile hotel, the boys head out for a disastrous night on the town. Sitting in a deserted nightclub, a glimour of hope comes when the boys manage to dance over to four girls (it’s not quite David Brent’s Flashdance-MC Hammer fusion, but it is still very funny) and speak to them without scaring them off. The night ends on a bittersweet note though – Jay manages to harrass a doorgirl in the middle of the street (“she’s so wet I can hear the waves breaking in her fanny”), while Simon learns that Carli is also on holiday in Malia. The key story thread follows the four boys chasing the four girls (and Carli … ) in the lead-up to the end-of-week ‘Boat Party’ celebration.

Big screen adaptations of sitcoms are tricky, but The Inbetweeners Movie hits the mark. The writers, Damon Beesley and Iain Morris, have stuck to the winning formula, putting together what is essentially a 90-minute episode with better production values and more vulgarity (look out for Neil’s disturbing bidet mishap). Fans of the show will not be disappointed with all the awkward humour you expect from the boys.

The best part of The Inbetweeners Movie though is its portrayal of the awkwardness of adolescence. Much like Judd Apatow’s Superbad, The Inbetweeners universe is an entirely believable one. While many high-school movies paint a picture of teenage years full of raging house parties and beautiful people. The Inbetweeners strikes a blow for the rest of us – the masses for whom adolescence was about being awkward, failing with members of the opposite sex, having no money, and going to crap parties.

The Inbetweeners Movie is not perfect. It is never easy to sustain sitcom-type laughs over 90-minutes, and there are a few quiet patches where the laughter-rate drops. Additionally, while most of the new movie characters are effective (especially Lydia Rose Bewley and Jessica Knappett, who play Jane and Lisa, two of the girls the boys meet), some of the minor characters are one-dimensional. Minor criticisms aside, the Inbetweeners film is a funny film that at times approaches a Borat hit-rate of laughter.

One for the fans.

The Verdict

The Verdict
A medley of awkwardness that fans of the show will lap up

[Music Review] Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds – Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds

Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds - S/T“Little things they make me so happy
But it’s good, it’s good, it’s good to be free…”

Noel Gallagher may have written those lyrics for a 1995 Oasis B-Side, but they are fitting words today as he releases his debut solo album, the self-titled Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.  Free from democracy of latter-day Oasis, this is the first album he has written from start-to-finish since 1997’s Be Here Now, and his first new material since walking out from Oasis two-years ago.

He may not have sent a song to the top of the charts for six years, but any question over Noel’s ability to deliver a big tune are laid to rest with the opening track. Album opener, Everybody’s On the Run, is an epic ballad drowned in choir and strings, anchored down by a line (“you gotta hold on” pleads Noel) that is this album’s “so Sally can wait” moment. Equally memorable is If I Had a Gun, a gorgeous acoustic track with opening guitar strains that recall Wonderwall.

The most surprising highlight on Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Bird’s comes from the bizarrely named AKA… What a Life!, a track which seems to have come straight from Noel Gallagher’s secret discotheque. A piano-driven, almost house-sounding track, it is just waiting to be remixed into a dance floor hit. As refreshing and intriguing as it is, it is the only time Noel wanders outside his comfort zone (at least until next year’s follow-up album is released – a collaborative effort with Androgynous Amorphous).

Elsewhere, influences come from for more familiar territory – Soldier Boys and Jesus Freaks is Eleanor Rigby if the Kinks had written it, while on The Death of You and Me Noel almost lifts lyrics directly from Lovin’ Spoonful’s Summer in The City. Unsurprisingly, the sound of Oasis is never far away either, especially on (I Wanna Live in a Dream In My) Record Machine. Critics may deride Noel at times for ‘borrowing’, but such criticism is redundant when the songs are this good.

The only track that fails to hit the mark is also its most hyped – closing track, Stop the Clocks. The song was first mentioned by Noel Gallagher ten years ago and reached mythical heights in Oasis circles, fueled by a leaked demo and comparisons with Champagne Supernova. Released here at last, it sounds more like a lost track from (the admittedly under-rated) Standing on the Shoulder of Giants than anything to be particularly excited about.

Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds may not drift far from a well-worn path, but it is a fine album containing some of the best songs he has written since the Britpop era. Best of all, between this and Beady Eye’s Different Gear, Still Speeding, the remnants of Oasis have produced two albums far better than their final effort together as a band. It’s a great time to be an Oasis fan.

The Verdict
A solid debut but one firmly in familiar territory
Best Songs:
Everybody's on the Run, If I Had a Gun, AKA... What a Life!

[Music Review] Kasabian – Velociraptor!

Velociraptor! is the fourth effort from Leicester rockers Kasabian, and the hotly anticipated follow-up to their 2009 album, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum. It is their most eclectic album yet, with psychedelic, industrial, middle eastern and even hip hop influences permeating their electro-rock sound.

Anyone expecting West Ryder – Part II will find themselves underwhelmed by the opening track, Let’s Roll Just Like We Used To, a strings and horn infused song which at times almost recalls Paint it Black by the Stones. It is pleasant and catchy, but ultimately too innocuous to open an album by a band that has kicked off previous efforts with songs like Club Foot and Empire.

Normal service is resumed on track two and lead single, Days are Forgotten. An almost hip hop sounding beat underlines tribal screams, slashing electric guitars, nonsensical lyrics (I’ve got blood lust / feeding you bread crust) and a chorus you will not forget. It is big, it is over the top, and it is Kasabian at their finest.

Even bigger and more over the top is the album’s title track, which attacks you with all the speed and aggression of its prehistoric namesake. Best of all is the chorus, which somehow manages to be a contender for the title of both silliest and catchiest lyrics of 2011 (“Velociraptor! / He’s gonna find ya! / He’s gonna kill ya! / He’s gonna eat ya!”). With lyrics like that, it should be a dud, but it is not and it is coming soon to a festival encore near you.

Possibly the boldest moment of the album comes with Switchblade Smile. Here, Kasabian bring their electronic influences to the fore with a song that channels  the sound of Nine Inch Nails and the Prodigy, with just enough Sergio Pizzorno guitar to keep Kasabian’s DNA in place. It is an exciting track and one can not help but wish the group had explored their electronic influences to a greater extent through the album.

Other noteworthy tracks include the Middle Eastern flavours of Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter from the Storm), I Hear Voices with its Kraftwerk inspired synthesisers, and the Lennon-esque La Fee Verte (with obvious lyrical odes to the Fab Four: “I see Lucy in the sky telling me I’m high” and “Nothing is real”).

There are no bad songs on Velociraptor!, and with its wide-ranging influences, there is something for everyone. But here lies the problem – Velociraptor! tries to do too much, and lacks a single cohesive thread that demands repeat start-to-finish commitment from the listener. As such, it is a collection of great songs, rather than a truly great album. For now, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum remains the high water mark in the group’s discography.

The Verdict
An eclectic album that is too omnivorous to be called Velociraptor!
Best Songs: Switchblade Smile, Days are Forgotten, Acid Turkish Bath (Shelter from the Storm)