By Darren Young
I admit it– I was, and still kind of am, a diehard Kooks fan. “Naïve” and “Sofa Song” got some serious playtime on my iPod Mini. How could I help it? Many a young schoolgirl has fallen for the bubbly love songs and ironically upbeat ballads of The Kooks, not to mention frontman Luke Pritchard’s honeyed English voice.
A quick listen to the title track (and first single) “Junk of the Heart” is a throwback to my high school years– that indie-pop I was so deeply infatuated with. It’s clear that The Kooks haven’t strayed too far from the sound that won their fans over in the first place. The album is more reminiscent of the mellow acoustics of their 2006 debut Inside In/Inside Out than the bluesy Konk of 2008. That isn’t to say, however, that they haven’t matured in the three years since their last release. Dabbles in electronica, soul and jazz, heard on “Runaway” as well as “Is It Me,” add experimental dimension to what would otherwise be the standard Kooks sound. While it’s definitely different, the band has managed to work these sounds effortlessly into their melodies.
While a little bit underwhelming, this album still highlights the ability of The Kooks to develop while keeping their “indie-pop” label. Somewhere, deep down, the 15-year-old me is squealing with happiness.