Kosheen – Independence (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
KOSHEEN’S first new album since 2007 is called Independence and is worth the wait.
Ever the class act, their comeback was delayed while Darren Decoder and Markee Substance pursued other projects and while they created their own label, so that they could be more in charge of their own destiny.
But while five years is a long time in dance music, they’ve kept their finger on the pulse to ensure that their return combines all the elements that made them such a success in the first place with a vibe that is utterly contemporary.
The resulting album, comprised of 14 tracks, is a cut above a lot of modern dance in that it has the ability to appeal to the Ibiza crowd as much as the indie one too.
There’s darkness mixed with light, there’s propulsive full steam ahead floor-fillers mixed with lonesome spotlight moments, and there’s even a sense of the cinematic at times. San Evans’ distinct vocals, meanwhile, provide a worthy focal point, guiding you through the various moods that the album seeks to evoke.
The album kicks off in suitably impressive style with the dark, foreboding but utterly insistent dark electronic of Addict (which has a late night edginess about it coupled with a great vocal), before hitting you with the slightly more radio-friendly Get A New One.
For my money, though, Kosheen are at their best when keeping things dark. Bella Donna, for instance, has a ghostly synth sound to it and some subtler beats to emerge as one of the early highlights, while Dependency continues the theme of addiction encountered on the opener, albeit with propulsive beats and a near drum ‘n’ bass intensity.
Manic, meanwhile, continues the dark energy with a throbbing bassline, some interesting bleeps and a really great chorus that brings out a haunted, foreboding quality in Evans’ vocals.
Admittedly, the album veers a little off course during its middle section, when drum ‘n’ bass takes over a little more and the sound becomes a little more underground and industrial, but the interest levels raise once the LP hits Out There, delivering a stripped back spotlight moment that showcases their ability to change the pace and toy with expectation. It’s a disarming moment but one that manages to mix some interesting beat and electronic arrangements with an almost dream-like vocal from Evans. You could almost call it trippy when she sings “is there anybody out there?”
Further highlights come in the form of Enter, which again thrives off the decision to slow the tempo yet remain atmospheric (even cinematic), while Waste is a fantastic slice of electro-pop that contains one of the most radio friendly choruses on the LP. In that sense, they’ve almost saved one of the best for last.
But Spies eventually rounds things off with an energetic dance track to bring the curtain down on a really great listen. It’s good to have Kosheen back and sounding as fresh and exciting as ever. The dance scene really needed them.
Download picks: Bella Donna, Addict, Manic, Out There, Enter, Waste