The Kooks – Junk of the Heart
It’s been a funny few years for Luke Pritchard and The Kooks. It’s interesting to note that their debut album Inside Out/Inside In was released on the same day as the record-breaking introductory record from those little-known Arctic Monkeys chaps. It could also be somewhat surprising that these two albums have actually sold very similar numbers since their release in January 2006.
However, the different paths that these two bands have gone down since only highlights the plight that came the way of the Brightonfour-piece. Whilst their debut was a joyous indie-flecked pop-rock record that boasted potential singles at every turn, Konk – its moodier 2008 successor – took itself rather more seriously. Add to that Luke Pritchard’s ever growing bravado and many shied away, sensing a band that were getting ideas above their station. Konk sold poorly. That it was mis-step has all but been admitted, with Pritchard recently pining ‘it would be great for our music to connect again. That was a great moment for us’.
So after three-and-a-half years of silence and the contemplation of splitting comes Junk of the Heart. In the build up to its release Pritchard has spoken of experimental recording sessions and the deconstructing of songs by LCD Soundsystem to use as a benchmark. However, it is this apparent desire to change what we know as The Kooks, juxtaposed against Pritchard’s yearning to be part of the public consciousness again that causes Junk of the Heart its biggest problem: confusion. Is it the experimental third album that sees them chart a new course, or an attempt to consolidate and get back to level pegging? With a timid foot in both camps the answer is neither.
Throughout listening to the record you can’t help but feel disappointed in both how tame the stabs at evolution are and how unmemorably the choruses come and go. A token synthesiser bubble here and there, words are repeated. It’s all a shame really as it actually starts promisingly. The opening title track posses the albums’ best chorus while the following How’d You Like That has likeable groove underpinning a sugary melody.
The real gem though comes in the form of the closing Mr. Nice Guy, a song that makes you wish the group had listened to those experimental urges just a little more. It takes the DNA of Arcade Fire’s We Used To Wait and rebuilds it to include Beatles-esque harmonies. It is an absolute delight and a frustrating way to leave any album; wandering what could have been if its final notes had been the building blocks, rather than the ray of light that comes when it’s all a bit too late.
THE KOOKS – JUNK OF THE HEART (HAPPY)