It’s hard to say for sure if The Kooks fans will recognize the band’s new sound on Listen, but frontman Luke Pritchard did warn that “reinvention” was in the works. And he stayed true to his word, because The Kooks’ latest work took a pretty drastic turn away from their original albums.
Having always maintained their stereotype as the Arctic Monkeys’ little brother, The Kooks have relied on an anarchistic sound pretty much since they started. With their 2006 debut release, Inside In/Inside Out, songs like “Eddie’s Gun” and “See the World” offered glimpses into the band’s angst-ridden ballads, while others, like “Sofa Song” and “Jackie Big Tits”, showed listeners that they were capable of a softer and more charming sound. Konk (2008) and Junk of the Heart (2011) remained the same, but there was something about their albums that always left me pondering what their sound truly was. Their mishmash of genres, all balled into one album time and time again, had me convinced that this group was just trying to prove they could reach a range of sounds in the span of a few songs. While some argue that the band focussed on mixed genre, The Kooks never had me convinced that they weren’t just confused about what their sound should be. And since I’ve been a fan of the Arctic Monkeys’ music since high school, the fact that The Kooks had wedged themselves into the same genre made me demand that much more from them just to keep up.
With Listen, though, The Kooks have returned with fresh yet familiar tones. Some of their new stuff reminds me of Phoenix and a little of early Vampire Weekend’s stuff, like “Mansard Roof” and “Oxford Comma”. With such an alternative pop sound, The Kooks have completely turned their sound around, earning themselves a spot on my iPod.
For the most part, the reviews pouring in from fans and critics have voiced disappointment with the band’s new turn, but I don’t share their opinion. The Kooks’ new album is full of fresh tunes and Pritchard has delivered on his promise. MMMM