Kosheen - Damage
Jorge Costa 28/11/2007
Relationships suck and they fail and they bring about the worst in people and they make you write songs with lyrics like “Is the love we have the only sin?” and “I know the love was never true”. Or at least that's what Kosheen would have you believe.
Coming four years after Kokopelli amid very little fan-fare, the entire lyrical content of their third LP never wavers from this same subject matter, which makes you wonder whether singer Sian Evans did anything other than end relationships during that period.
The topic here is not what hinders the album as such; it's how the band tackles the songs with generic pop structures and how Evans seems incapable of providing anything in the way of insight in her lyrics. Where artists like Alanis Morissette, PJ Harvey, Shivaree and King Creosote use inventive turns of phrase, wit and clever double entendres to give dimensions to their situations, Evans falls back on tired clichés (“Even though you're near, you seem so far away”) and bizarre poetic illustrations (“Like a clock, like a mother, you were curiously free”. What the hell is that supposed to mean?). Further compounded by the fact that her delivery fails plumb much emotional depth, it all goes on for sixteen tracks - over seventy mind numbing minutes.
The album's production and instrumentation could have almost made up for this. Mixing the guitar riffs of Kokopelli with the drum'n'bass of the excellent Resist, the title track, 'Damage', has some excellent languid tribal beats which then give way to crisp and sleekly produced 'Overkill'.
Ironically, it's all these digital noises that provides the best track on the album with its emotional heft; like The Knife's 'The Captain', 'Analogue Street Dub' opens with extended and heavily layered synth horns which build to a speaker shuddering crescendo before a gorgeous, low-key refrain kicks in. This track also represents one of the few occasions when Evans actually sounds like means and feels what she is saying.
This track, unfortunately, comes far too late in the album and chances are that you would have switched off by then. The production takes such a bland turn with the embarrassingly girlish 'Guilty' that your attention is only recovered when Evans screams “It's over!” five songs later, on 'Thief'. Excited, you turn to the tracklisting to see if she means it, but no: there are still seven largely emotionally inert and thematically repetitive songs to go before this thing ends.