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Kosheen “Independence”: Album Review

Kosheen Recordings (2012)

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.

2 / 5 stars     

About the Author


Jon O'Brien's love of music began as a six-year-old after becoming bizarrely transfixed with the 80s poodle rock of Heart, Europe and Def Leppard. Switching his attention to pop icon Michael Jackson, he then became addicted to the UK Top 40, becoming a rather pointless walking Wikipedia of chart positions in the process. Driving his poor neighbors up the wall while learning to play the drums as a teen, he toyed with the idea of becoming a musician, but in studying Journalism at the University of Central Lancashire, he realized heÕd rather write about music than perform it. Since then, he's written thousands of reviews and biographies on everything from bubblegum pop to death metal, but electronica remains his main passion, with everything from Aphex Twin to Zero 7 in his spare room-consuming record collection. Jon resides in northwest England near Liverpool.

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Posted in: Album Reviews, Electronic Music, Featured