Review of Pilgrim's Progress Album by Kula Shaker

Toward the close of the Britpop bubble Kula Shaker's Indian-influenced rock brought them a double-platinum debut record (1996's 'K') and success in the USA when they featured on the soundtrack of a Hollywood movie. Their profile on these shores may have dipped, but their popularity in Asia is indicated by a host of festival shows in the coming months to support their imminently released forth album.

Kula Shaker Pilgrim's Progress Album

For those hoping that Kula Shaker are still producing the enthusiastic sounds of 'Hush' and 'Tattva', 'Pilgrims Progress' is quite a let down. The band's sound is much more organic here, with folk being the resounding influence that breaks through, beginning with the charming acoustics of 'Peter Pan RIP'. At times the main sound meshes with rock'n'roll, producing a similar output to that of The Levellers such as on 'Ophelia' and the weaker 'Modern Blues', but the better results are found when proceedings are simplified as exemplified by 'Ruby'. The highlight of the record is easily 'Barbara Ella', featuring a relaxing retro soul tone and an elegant vocal performance from Crispian Mills, though 'Winter's Call' isn't far behind and makes for a satisfying finale. Not a poor record by any means but 'Pilgrims Progress' doesn't capture the imagination anywhere near as much as the band's multi-platinum debut and is unlikely to see them making a comeback to prominence.

Alex Lai

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