Empire also marked a discernible shift away from the band's early sound, revealing a preference to deal with more traditional rock dynamics. The title track for instance positively strutted like a peacock in full retro plumage, complete with stubby acid-bass and a jarring string section, whilst "Shoot The Runner" was a paean to original glam-rockers like The Sweet.
So now on to that supposedly difficult third release, not that there was much struggle with writer's block according to Pizzorno: "I think the album shows how beautiful we are as a band". Appreciating the modern industry dynamic of building to an event, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum was preceded in late 2007 by the "Fast Fuse" EP, a vinyl only release limited to a hundred copies. And for those fans troubled by some of Empire's nods to the psychedelic outpourings of Syd Barret, there was much more to get nervous about. The title track was more familiar sounding, a pulsing stab of raw garage rock which wouldn't have sounded out of place in a Tarantino gangster-noir. But it was the accompanying "Thick As Thieves" that marked the greater departure, a greco-Kinksian lullaby with the odd frisson of surf-rock thrown in. For Kasabian it seemed, the last train to predictability had already left the station.
Creative freedom and commercial success frequently travel in opposite directions, but if there was pressure to conform from label mandarins, West Ryder... bears little evidence of it. The obvious step might have been to invite the evergreen Stephen Street to produce, or even the du jour helmsman Dan Carey. In keeping however with the band's maverick self belief though, these duties were handed to Dan "Automator" Nakamura, whose previous credits included work both with Gorillaz and on DJ Shadow's almost legendary Endtroducing album. Noteable, but not bankable.
The only plan then it seems, is that there was no plan. Opener "Underdog" at least bridges the gap between the "Club Foot" era and now; over a rumbling loop, Meighan spits his stream of blank verse - "Life in technicolour, sprayed on a wall" - whilst a raking lead guitar riff glows angrily. At the end, a strange micro synth concerto segues into "Where Did All The Love Go", not the first song to bemoan the rise of street violence in Britain, but the thought of this band - hedonists who did what thou wilt and let it be the whole of the law - writing a song containing the authority line "Whatever happened to the youth of this generation" doesn't it has to be said sit quite right.