A late addition to the Bristol scene which spawned the likes of Massive Attack, Portishead and Tricky, Kosheen graced both dancefloors and dinner parties with their sophisticated blend of trip-hop, gothic synth-pop and drum & bass on 2001 debut Resist. However, their subsequent two releases saw them ditch the ProTools and pick up their guitars in a slightly misguided attempt to become the next Texas.
Perhaps buoyed by the success of front-woman Sian Evans’ recent chart-topping collaboration with DJ Fresh, their fourth studio effort, Independence, sees them return to their electronic roots on the first release under their own Kosheen Recordings label.
Initially, it’s a convincing return to form. Lead single “Get A New One” echoes the rubbery electro of David Guetta’s finest hour, Kelis’ “Acapella.” “Bella Donna” is an intriguingly eerie glam-funk affair which sounds like Goldfrapp have penned a new theme tune for The X-Files; and “Dependency” is a thrilling journey into the annals of dance culture, veering into everything from old-skool rave to dreamy chillout to intense breakbeat in the space of seven slightly chaotic minutes.
Unfortunately, the rest of the record descends into pure self-indulgent knob-twiddling. With the haunting gutsy tones of Evans, Kosheen possess one of the most under-rated British vocalists of the last decade. So it’s a travesty that she’s then pushed into the background in favour of such aimless industrial-lite electronica as “Zone 8,” “Enter” and “Something New,” the latter of which disappointingly features the kind of monstrous Transformer-esque dub wobble that even Skrillex would turn his nose up at.
In fact, other than the melodic synth-rock of “Waste,” the only track which wouldn’t really sound out of place on Kokopelli and Damage, there’s barely a memorable hook once the album reaches the half-way mark.
Far from the triumphant comeback promised by its encouraging opening, Independence ultimately leaves you questioning why on earth Evans hasn’t yet embarked on a solo career.