Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Junk of the Heart

Whenever I hear The Kooks come on, it's like I physically can't help shouting out, "AHHHHHH THE KOOKS! I LOVE THE KOOKS!" There is nothing- I repeat nothing- better than hearing a British band's accent actually coming through when they sing i.e. category 4 *swoon* inducer! And the first band that comes to mind when I think of this trait is The Kooks. Lead singer Luke Pritchard's distinctive voice has single-handedly drawn me out to some of the best concerts I've ever been to. So when their third album Junk of the Heart was finally released last Tuesday, I was running at it with open arms, full steam ahead. The reunion was not quite what I anticipated, thus, I will break it down track by track...
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1. Junk of the Heart (Happy) - Do you see the girl in the cover art? Because that's exactly what I look like when this album kicks off i.e. arm flailing!!! "I wanna make you happyyyyy" - check! check! check! Here's a gold star and 20,000 air kisses.
2. How'd You Like That - I will not pretend that I understand these lyrics, however, I will dance sporadically on my bed whilst singing them into my hairbrush. I will also not pretend that I'm not looking forward to singing the chorus back to the band the next time I see them in concert with come-hither eyes despite how short the lead singer is in person. 
3. Rosie - This song had me grooving from the start and I hate the word grooving, so it's kind of a big deal. BUT, I bought the album in the flesh and the lyrics in the booklet say your where it should be you're and that makes me slightly hostile with a side of incredulity. To whoever edited that, I'm coming for your job in a big, big way.
4. Taking Pictures of You - It was like this song was trying to buy me a drink at the bar and I had to tell it I wasn't interested on more than one occasion. 
5. F*** the World Off - And then that song's questionable friend cornered me at said bar and I was getting really desperate and had to make up a fake boyfriend...
6. Time Above the Earth - You know when someone's trying really hard to sound philosophical and your eyes sort of glaze over and roll back into your head? Yeah. That. The strings, however, were a welcome distraction from what I witnessed in the booklet yet again... YOUR ≠ YOU'RE!
7. Runaway - Sensing that something essential has indeed changed in their approach to making music, this was the breaking point where I finally had to draw back from the group hug, look up into their eyes and ask, "Why did you do this to me?"
8. Is It Me - Ooo yessssss!!!!! Back on track! This is The Kooks I know and love! From the moment it starts it's an A+ x infinity x pajama dance parties! Plus Luke's voice gets a little rough and rowdy and that's de-lic-ious. This song makes me want to cash in everything I own for a leather jacket and a one way ticket to London where I'll be the drummer Paul's groupie girlfriend and listen to this song on oversized headphones, pretending I'm one of those people that actually has successful trips to flea markets. 
9. Killing Me - And my temporary bliss is over as I've somehow been transported into an 80s movie finally-slow-dancing-with-my-other-side-of-the-tracks-rich-boy-crush-as-my-geeky-wallflower-friend-sighs-by-the-bleachers scene and I'm wondering how I got there.
10. Petulia - Simple and refreshing, it takes me back to their "Seaside" days, which is a very good thing.
11. Eskimo Kiss - This one hooks you in right from the beginning. "She's like a sunflower that never looks back at the sun." Mmm I love sugary lyrics sometimes, ok? No apologies! I want to pour them over my daily desk-apades like chocolate syrup. And all the la la las? They are like the rainbow sprinkles to my day. And I love rainbow sprinkles!
12. Mr. Nice Guy - I like the 60s sort of feel this one has, especially with the background vocals. But I wish it was less electronic and more organic i.e. holy distracting, is that what The Kooks would sound like if they got sucked into Tron? Play it again, Luke, play it acoustic! 

Verdict: I'm torn! First there's the promise of musical glory that some of these songs pointed towards and, in fact, accomplished with "Junk of the Heart (Happy)" and "Is It Me." Then it's mixed with that disappointed feeling you get when someone you have a major crush on shares something important with you, looking at you with puppy dog eyes, and you lie and say you love it even though it didn't live up to your expectations because you want to be supportive. As a whole it pales in comparison to their previous albums, which, if I'm not mistaken, were both recorded live. It lacks the cheekiness and boyish charm of Inside In / Inside Out, which produced solid indie-pop gold like "Naive" and "She Moves In Her Own Way." But then, we expect bands to evolve and mature. So really my biggest problem is that this third album lacks the direction and voice that was so evident on their sophomore album Konk, which graced our ears with the put-it-on-repeat-forever likes of "See the Sun," "Tick of Time," and oh, I don't know, every track on that album. Despite three years' work, this one, though smattered with shining moments, is all over the place. Where were the story telling and must-rewind-because-they're-just-too-good lyrics? That being said, it is growing on me and Luke & co. are more than welcome to convince me of the merits of 50% of this album with alcoholic beverages, dancing to "Junk of the Heart (Happy)," because dang this album is so worth it for that song alone, and copious amounts of flirting. Just sayin'! 

P.S. Please treat yourself to this acoustic version of the catchy opener:

4 comments:

  1. I agree 100% with what you've said here. Fortunately I didn't buy a physical copy of the album, so I wasn't treated to the lovely grammar smashfest that you were, Sally. Cringeworthy, indeed.
    This reminds me of that time I eagerly bought Demi Lovato's new album (aka: yesterday, and yes, I do love her) and spent the whole listen going "WTF, Demi?" Sometimes I really do wonder how some songs make it out into the world.

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  2. An interview was posted today (http://www.sentimentalistmag.com/2011/09/07/the-kooks-the-future-sounds-like-sunshine/) in which Luke admits that 3/4 of the album was written the month before they went into recording. Mystery solved!

    But, listen, I still love them! Who wants to see them play in DC with me on Nov 20th? They're AMAZING live! I think I speak for Ali as well when I say that is one of the BEST concert experiences I've ever had.

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  3. OMGeez!!!! November?! gah! That was a very thorough review indeed, and I have to agree with you. It's not Inside In/Inside Out, but it still makes me happy!

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  4. Sarah... I wanna make you happyyyyyyy!!!!!!!

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