Sunday, February 11, 2007

The Kooks Ain't So Kooky

The Kooks single "Naive" is nice and catchy till you've heard it a few hundred times on Indie 103.1 like I have here in L.A. What's maybe even more surprising is the fact that the whole album is quite good. Listening to it all the way through, I kept waiting to here the "Naive" so I could skip to the next track. Normally the single is towards the front of the track list, but you won't find "Naive" till track 9. So, while I'm waiting to skip the track I've already heard I tune my ears into The Kooks brand of Indie Pop Rock.

From the first notes of "Seaside" I know that this band could be more than ordinary. The first track eases you into the record with its simple acoustic sing-songy approach. It's a song that could have been written in an afternoon sitting on deck overlooking the ocean. It's earnest, simple and gives a quick glimpse to guitarist/vocalist Luke Pritchard's range and style. It's playful, yet confidant. The second track "See the World" is where things shift to the Rock/Pop I was referring to. As it begins with a reverb riff that sounds like a sporting event chant of "Let's Go Blah Blah Blah..." if you follow. Either way, it brings the energy and really jump starts the album. It's worth mentioning that there is only one track longer than 3:40, and it's the worst song on the album "Time Awaits."

The Kooks are amazingly well-formed for a band that has only been together for a couple years. Their energy and passion come through when they're whipping through songs in 2-3 minutes. The good tracks are like lightning in a bottle. Short bursts of Pop Rock that keeps your attention for just the right amount of time and then ready to enjoy again. The tracks that really standout are "Eddie's Gun," "Ooh La," "If Only," and "Jackie Big Tits." These are just a few, and I'd say the majority of the tracks would fit on the radio, but clearly "Naive" is the most radio-ready.

If I had to compare the band to another current one I suppose it would be Arctic Monkeys for their energy, but that is almost like an insult to The Kooks. One of the things I like most about the album is the way they alternate between acoustic and electric guitars depending on what they want for the song. The twin acoustic approach isn't something you hear a lot at the moment from bands and it's refreshing and really makes you appreciate the guitar playing technique and acumen. Overall, this album was only surprising because the single currently playing on the radio had such a quick rise to popularity.

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