Putting drum'n'bass back on the map for the first time since Roni Size four years earlier, Kosheen's debut album, Resist, was a surprising commercial success back in 2001. Combining dark brooding basslines, high-octane breakbeats, and Sian Evans' distinctive vocals, it cleverly managed to appeal to both dance aficionados and mainstream radio, notching up sales of nearly half a million in the process. Follow-up Kokopelli, named after a mythical Native American flute player, sees the trio ditching its programming tools in favor of guitars to create a more expansive sound that often leans toward goth rock. It's a puzzling change in direction. The menacing atmospherics may still be intact but with the rough edges that made Resist so intriguing smoothed out, Kokopelli often struggles to move out of second gear. Indeed, the majority of the album follows the same crunching guitars, minimal electronica, and doom-laden lyrics formula that makes it hard to distinguish one track from another. In Evans, they have one of Britain's most underrated vocalists, her emotive folk-rock tones just as powerful and haunting as the more revered Portishead's Beth Gibbons, but even she is unable to rescue the likes of "Avalanche" and "Blue Eyed Boy" from their flat and repetitive production. The album is far more convincing, though, when it abandons its Evanescence-lite attempts at metal. "Coming Home" may be a retread of the epic "Hungry," but its melancholic, acoustic vibe is a welcome change of pace, while lead single "All in My Head," with its upbeat radio-friendly chorus, shows Kosheen are capable of producing great pop with strong melodies. But considering the expectations, Kokopelli is something of a disappointment. Their unique take on the Bristol sound made them one of Britain's most interesting dance acts. But by deciding to pick up their guitars, they've now become just a very ordinary rock band.
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AllMusic Review by Jon O'Brien