by Paige Ardill
I like to believe I’m a well versed Kooks fan; a devoted member since the first time I heard ‘Jackie Big Tits.’ I also feel as though my knowledge of their discography is pretty conversant: Inside In / Inside Out, The Kooks’ premier album, begins with signature guitar riffs which channel into unique melodies, from angsty love ballads to head banging new age punk reminiscent of The Ramones’ ‘Pet Sematary.’ Konk leans more into the path of the early Arctic Monkeys and, arguably, has their best lyrical content thus far. Junk Of The Heart takes a rose-colored turn, as would be assumed by the title, that finally and truly exhibits The Kooks’ new sound: different, but completely their own. Listen experiments once again, implementing soulful bass tones, muffled instrumentation and even choral harmonies… but what has come since its 2014 release has been nothing but lackluster.
In 2015, The Kooks released Hello, What’s Your Name, an album composed of mediocre (at best) remixes of their old songs that are held together, solely, by Atlas Genius’ remix of ‘Down.’ Though not impressed, I didn’t let it affect my opinion of their previous discography, writing it off as an attempt of experimentation, which in its own right is commendable. However, I did look forward to what was to come next, hoping for their return to be strong enough to instill that previous notion. Well, strong– in advertising – it was. Beginning in June, I noticed an influx of promotional paraphernalia for Let’s Go Sunshine in my news feed several times a day. And while I understand that “The Kooks” are frequently entered into my search bar, it began to feel incessant, taking the heart flutter out of anything popping up on Instagram. Still excited, however, upon the arrival of their first single off the album ‘Fractured and Dazed,’ my immediate thought was that they had revived themselves. It sounded like Junk Of The Heart-era Kooks again, and while that may just be a personal preference, in my mind they were back in the game and coming in strong. Next came ‘All The Time,’ ‘No Pressure,’ ‘Four Leaf Clover,’ and ‘Chicken Bone,’ all released as singles, and though relatively similar, they all stood strongly on their own – unfortunately, they are the only ones that do. The rest of the fifteen song album isn’t bad, frankly, the songs are individually well-written and well-produced, but when organized together, it becomes a bland experience; pleasant, but bland. It’s hard to find a specific point of error, but as a long time follower, it seems like a safe choice without any kind of variation.
If Let’s Go Sunshine is meant to be a hopeful return from Hello, What’s Your Name, an album of arguably the wrong kind of variation, then theoretically, it is. Still, Kooks fans alike hope for the eventual return of the band who created ‘Sway’… but this is fine for now.