Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Kosheen - Damage (Germany, 2007) Review

I received the new Kosheen album, Damage, in the post from Deutschland last week, and I'm very impressed with it. If they were my favourite band, if I was their greatest fan, and if I had been raving about how great they were continuously for the last four years since their previous release, I probably would have been disappointed, because it's not going to change anyone's world. The album is simply a great piece of work by a band doing what they do best, which is make good pop songs with lots of electronics added. The electronic element is very strong on this album, and I think that this is wise. The previous album did suffer from the band's relative lack of originality when faced with writing for the guitar, as opposed to using the guitar as rhythm for songs. When I saw them live, I did notice that the guitarist's ability with the electric guitar was not excessive, at least by comparison to other guitarists I know of within my limited knowledge of the instrument and its practitioners. They do not have this problem when it comes to synthesisers and keyboards, apparently, as the tunes are more varied, sounds a bit more unusual and the song structures more exciting than before. This allows the lyrics and vocals to stand out to a greater extent than was possible with the several songs on their last album which sounded too similar musically. Not that I'm going to criticise the second album, Kokopelli, too harshly, as it has one of their best songs on it (and a heavily guitar based one at that) from which the title of this blog is taken.

The only fault I really have is that the album is a few tracks too long to really be at the top of my list for great albums, as opposed to great collections of songs. They ones at the end aren't quite good enough to make you want to listen intently for a full CD, which is not a problem you would have with the first Faithless album, Reverence, with its fewer tracks of longer duration, or with an album like A Night at the Opera, by Queen, which has a sensible number of songs of a reasonable length and are of the right quality to keep you going all the way through the album and which stands out even more as a whole than as several pieces. Not many bands are going to beat Queen's 1970's period for producing great albums, I'm sorry to say. Aside from Faithless's first two, and perhaps one or two of Depeche Mode's, no album has really come close out of the bands I've really got into.

As a pop album, I think it would stand very well against other albums that have received greater commercial success, but this is actually true of most of the pop I like. Pop seems to end up being driven by the listeners, or perhaps marketing men, rather than the artists if it receives any attention and actually makes some money. So I'm quite glad that this band is perhaps free from that burden. I'm going to enjoy having this one as part of my collection, and I wish I could see them live.

However, as they're on tour during revision time, I believe my chances of getting this wish granted are slim.

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