For a good five years now, Brighton indie-pop four-piece The Kooks have made their name as a well-known and well-established artist in UK pop music. Everyone is well acquainted with tracks such as ‘Naïve’ and ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’, which made their way into the top ten of the charts back in 2006, but have The Kooks been able to match that success or is their latest effort overshadowed by their past material?
Their new album ‘Junk Of The Heart’ is mellow and laid back for the most part, with many tracks taking a chilled out, acoustic path. The harmonic ‘Time Above The Earth’ begins with what could easily be mistaken for a song taken from a movie soundtrack, with an array of strings setting a melancholy, tranquil tone before vocalist Luke Pritchard‘s distinctive vocals set in. Tracks ‘Taking Pictures Of You’ and ‘Petulia’ are again, quiet and acoustic, straying far from the upbeat poppiness of their best known track, 2006’s ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’.
It seems like straying from their previous pop image is the Brighton four-piece’s main aim, and as the twelfth track ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ finishes, “no more Mr. Nice Guy” is the image the band are trying to portray. They are undoubtedly trying to shake the radio-friendly pop sound, especially with a song titled ‘F*ck The World Off’ and some experimentation that the band have not tried before, but despite their efforts, the undeniably catchy, harmonic tunes are still present, making them as likable as ever before. From the slightly reggae vibe of the raucous ‘Runaway’ to the heart-warming bounce of ‘Junk Of The Heart (Happy)’, this is an album that suits the happiness and good spirit as we grasp on to the last rays of the summer sun at this time of year.
It’s a safe record that explores many different styles of music and there is something to suit any listener, but while you listen you cannot help but think that the band will never really match the success they enjoyed during the mid-2000s with their breakthrough effort, ‘InsideIn/InsideOut’. ‘Junk Of The Heart’ actually displays some of their strongest material so far and will no doubt reap a lot of radio airtime, but unfortunately it remains overshadowed by their previous gems which remain hard to overlook when you begin listening to this album. Even though this was a supposed ‘rebirth’ effort, a band’s history is sometimes hard to shake.
Written by Ashleigh Wight