It’s probably hard to deny that you’ve missed The Kooks. Thanks to them many of us reveled in absolutely banging soft-indie tunes like ‘Naïve’ and ‘She Moves in Her Own Way’ from 2005 till 2008. One of the most defining bands of the Indie Rock renaissance, that saw many indie bands rise to commercial success in the 2000s, The Kooks were one band that stormed in with a genuine originality and emotional poignancy. But after the mixed bag of Junk of the Heart many were convinced that the potential of The Kooks had been squandered and they’ve been relatively quiet ever since. Listen is their chance to continue where Konk left off.
Upon initially hearing about their new album reactions were always going to be a bit unsure and upon the release it’s probably still the same. Clearly, old Kooks fans are going to find it irresistibly attractive, it’s got the feel of their albums from the mid-2000s but is it good thing? It’s probably going to take a few clear listens through before you decide whether it’s a love or a hate.
That first listen will probably fill you with a nostalgic joy that will undoubtedly make you smile. But after a few listens you feel that most of it seems to fall a bit flat- there is just too many similarities across the entire album. It’s not a matter of consistency and more of a matter of it getting boring extremely quickly.
Credit where credit is due, however, some of the songs like ‘Around Town’, ‘Bad Habit’, ‘Down’, and ‘Are We Electric’ can be classed as an interesting development from the basis they made in Inside In/ Inside Out and Konk but even their departures and changes feel like they’ve done it because they’ve had to, it feels like they feel inclined to make sure they sound like they’ve grown- when really making an album like they used to would probably have garnered a lot more interest and support.
And that idea sort of sums it all up really. The Kooks have concentrated on forcing development on themselves while trying to retain some of their earlier sounds. In their attempts they’ve sort of been caught in the middle, sort of satisfying both categories but never really nailing both at all- and that’s a bit of a shame.