Making up for lost time following their five-year hiatus, trip-hop/drum ‘n’ bass trio Kosheen now return with their second studio album in just over twelve months and one which is also intended to “represent the band breaking free from some behind-the-scenes stuff,” Solitude.
The band’s mission statement would suggest that a reinvention is on the cards. But disappointingly, the majority of its eleven tracks stick to the same kind of meandering industrial-lite electronica that swamped last year’s equally unmemorable Independence.
Indeed, learning nothing from the mistakes of their previous effort, Kosheen have once again failed to utilise their most valuable weapon – the impassioned, gutsy tones of frontwoman Sian Evans – and instead have allowed Darren Decoder and Markee Substance’s repetitive horror-themed production to take centre stage.
The overwhelming sense of menace is initially intriguing. Lead single “Harder They Fall” throws in a haunting string loop which resembles the theme to Hitchock’s Psycho on a pulsing bass anthem which harks back to their clubbier roots. Likewise, the skittering drum ‘n’ bass of “Observation” even samples the brief opening track (“Demonstrate”) from their striking 2001 debut, Resist, while “Save Your Tears” combines spooky analog synths with a throbbing bassline and disjointed beats to produce a hypnotic slice of dystopian electronica.
But Solitude falls apart during its tiresome second half, thanks to a string of sinister but aimless instrumentals (“Up In Flames,” “I”), a generic foray into dubstep which drowns out Evans’ vocals with its murky heavy-handed production (“Poison”), and an unsettling beatless soundscape (“Here & Now”) which appears to be aiming for Boards Of Canada but just ends up sounding bored.
Kosheen were once hailed as a potential successor to the likes of fellow Bristolians Massive Attack and Portishead. But Solitude, their second dud album in a row, shows that these lofty comparisons were well wide of the mark.