2007: Moksha/Island/Universal 1717312
I am astonished to find that Kosheen just get better with each new album. From Kokopelli to this album, the songcrafting (which really only got started at the latter edge of their first album, Resist) has been tightened and the sonic palette brought more closely to pair with it. Where Kokopelli had songs that could trudge on quite a long time and perhaps leave you lost in the darkness of the mood, the Damage songs have better encapsulations of things to deliver lyrics with a punch rather than as a parallel element.
Probably Marching Orders is my favorite track on this album (with Thief a very close second despite a whiff of unnecessary-as-always AutoTune here and there) although I dont know if I could say why that is it just is. None of the others stands out quite as much, to me, but there arent any I dislike or want to skip when I play the whole album. (Well, maybe Out of This World is a little too vague in its identity, and the album-closer Your Life is all dark curtains and harsh-lit woe without a clear picture underneath it all.)
Under Fire doesnt grab me initially but does become rather engaging with its lyrics. (Although again there is that AutoTune touch here and there, which is enough to sink an entire album for me just because its used at all except ironically. Not Enough Love has it as well, but it almost works in the stilted context of the track. Maybe Im wrong, maybe Sian Evans just has a quirky voice that happens to adjust to pitches with an odd suddenness, but I doubt it; most of the time her voice is lovely in its smoothness, so those abrupt steps do stand out suspiciously.)
For sure they kicked off the album with a track intended to keep fans faithful: dark, heavy, grinding machinery plods and echoes with vocals slow to arrive and all about romantic roadkill. Yet the lyrics and the melody are surprisingly solid: it may be scandalous to suggest this, to those who are purely into dark-techno music (and I confess I dont see the appeal of it for more than a track here or there amid more varied terrain), but the title track would probably be quite good as just an acoustic performance.
If theres a Kosheen sound, I guess its that of pain (sometimes merely its soft form, sorrow) alternating between brooding and howling. Stepping from the first track to the second here is a great demonstration of what can be mined from even that limited range. Yet on this album they bring in a little Pop pacing as well, as on Like a Book, which is an interesting mix of styles and in some ways hearkens back to the first albums brighter moments. One thing thats odd here, however, is that the songs all seem to end so abruptly, like squalls.
I quite like Kosheen now. The heaviness of the sound can be a little wearing, but theyve grown to leaven that pointlessly gloomy mass with melody and lyrical content to much better effect. It helps that the tracks are all shorter than those of Kokopelli (or at least they seem to be), thus the listener doesnt forget what the first part of the song was like by the time the machinery finally stops thumping.
Comments © 2012 Mark Ellis Walker, except as noted, and no claim is made to the images and quoted lyrics.