Damage [UK]

by: Kosheen

Four years after their last record, the guitar-driven Kokopelli, British trio Kosheen returned to the scene with their third album, Damage. On it, they attempt to bridge the drum'n'bass/electronica of their early work with the rock they explored in Kokopelli, ending up with something that, while not exactly satisfying, is successful in displaying the talents and influences of each member while still retaining the band's cleanly produced, hooky sound. Lyricist and singer Sian Evans approaches the songs from a pop standpoint, so there are clear delineations between verse and chorus, so even when things began to feel samey -- and they definitely do: there are only so many possible variations on the same basic minor chords -- there are enough catchy lines to keep the album from dragging because of it. The length -- over 80 minutes -- in fact, works as more of a hindrance to Damage than the actual pieces. It's just a little too much, a little too long, a little too dramatic, and put together it can be hard to stomach all at once. Not that there aren't some enjoyable pieces here. "Overkill" has an almost Teddybears feel, with more intense, darker electric guitars mixed with the programmed beats, while "Not Enough Love" reflects Evans' folkier roots, trippy yet very organic-sounding. Even the Madonna-esque "Like a Book" is fun enough, and as one of the few happier songs on the album (along with "Wish You Were Here"), it's a nice change from the rest of the trying-to-be-empowering breakup tracks ("Once upon a time/A spider ate a fly/She almost lost her web/Was biting off his head," Evans sings on the asinine "Guilty"). This is slickly produced electronic pop, and sometimes its driving beats and melodic hooks grab you, just like they're supposed to. But because it's slickly produced electronic pop, it can also sometimes seem like little more than studio wizardry, trying hard to be profound but having nothing to back it up. And when this happens, Damage can be hard to get through. [Moksha's 2007 U.K. edition incuded two bonus tracks.] ~ Marisa Brown

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