This album forgets the most important secret to keeping any dancefloor happy - momentum.
Louis Pattison 2007
Best known for their hit “Hide U”, which breached the UK Top 10 back in 2001, Bristol’s Kosheen have been one of the more successful British acts to draw influence from underground dance culture. Their debut album, the platinum selling Resist, set out to meld the breakbeat rhythms of drum ’n’ bass to more traditional songcraft, a side of the band embodied by vocalist Sian Evans.
Since Resist though, Kosheen have gradually toned down the tempo. On 2003’s Kokopelli, they explored a rockier sound, adding guitars to the mix. And here on Damage, the trio’s first album in four years, they delve deeper into moodier, trip-hop territory, playing up the personal lyrics and integrating acoustic instruments amid the synths and sequencers. Actually, it’s the more restrained tracks that work the best: “Cruel Heart” is a sombre number about the pains of adolescence, inspired by Evans’ teenage son, while “Not Enough Love” hitches a robust breakbeat to gently circling acoustic guitar and a desolate, folksy vocal: ‘Tight as a drum/Sharp as they come/There’s not enough love for anybody’.
Sadly, there’s much to Damage that works less successfully. For the most part, the rhythmic, jungle-influenced rush that gave their debut a cool, futuristic sheen has mostly evaporated. Without it, much here feels at best fairly unadventurous and at worst, insipid and bland. The opening title track aims for a disquieting, Massive Attack-style melancholy but it let down by tacky trance synths and tinny strings, while “Professional Friend”, an attempt at a Garbage-style rocker, suffers from flat production and a clunky lyric: ‘I’ve got skeletons enough to build a castle with a turret’ sings Evans. Worst of all, though, Damage is extremely overlong. Clocking in at 16 tracks and over 70 minutes, this album forgets the most important secret to keeping any dancefloor happy - momentum.