The Kooks: Listen
Alternative & Indie
Virgin and EMI Records
Divisive British indie-rock band, the Kooks, are is back at it with their fourth studio album, Listen. The band’s previous album, Junk of the Heart, was ill-received by both fans and critics, and the pressure has very much been on.
‘Around Town’ opens the album with a ridiculously upbeat, retro tone that you will almost certainly find your feet tapping away to; a quite surprising start that signals an even more surprising pattern for the rest of the album.
Though the distinctively different sound is explicit, the band still manages to retain a degree of familiarity, as to not alienate fans. Said retro vibe is very much present throughout the rest of the album, with ‘Forgive & Forget’ following through with a 70s/80s influence.
‘West Side’ comes along and changes up the sound of the album to something a bit mellower with a sleeker beat, allowing Luke Pritchard’s utterly distinctive vocals to shine. Just as you start to settle get into the nostalgic influences, ‘See Me Now’ slaps you out of that comfort, with Pritchard’s vocals taking a more melancholic tone as he laments about adolescent mistakes to his late father; a touchingly soulful tribute.
It Was London, however, sets the album back on the same track and the influences of yesteryear colour the track with the electric guitar dominating its sound, fuelled by political muses as it narrates riots and mayhem. Saying ‘Bad Habit’ is catchy would be an understatement; it’s a typically infesting Kooks sing-along that is likely to follow you for days – whether you like it or not.
The catchy tunes continue from here, with ‘Down and Electric Heart’, while ‘Sunrise’ sees Pritchard seductively makes an entrance chanting “I want you, to show me the way to your heart.”
The album closes off with ‘Sweet Emotion’ – the album’s closest encounter with romance whose piano solo provides a fitting finale.
While this is far from being a revolutionary album, Listen does signal the Kooks’ return to form for fans, offering a clean-cut, freshly rejuvenated twist on their usual sound. Detractors, however, will find plenty to pick at.