Released last year, “Listen” by Great Britain’s pop champions The Kooks is such an enjoyable compilation of pleasing musical moments we think it merits a slightly tardy – but very hearty, recommendation.
The Kooks are well-loved for their skillful blending of expert musicianship and a cheerfully unpretentious style; their music is described as post-punk or Indie pop. Past hits include “She Moves in Her Own Way” and “Junk of the Heart.”
This, their fourth album, is a bit of a departure from previous releases and has been heralded as “world music.” It was influenced in part by lead singer Luke Pritchard’s visit to New Orleans, and features an armload of fun, diverse tracks with loads of percussion.
“Listen” opens on the resounding notes of musical exclamation mark “Around Town.” “Oh Yeah!” sing a bevy of gospel singers; we’re betting fans and newbies alike will surrender to the tight syncopation of this great dance track. Vocals and harmonies by Pritchard on all cuts – especially this one – are marvelous.
We also love the reassuring pop-vibe of “Westside.” Storyline? Young love in an England suburb, but the catchy chorus line “You’re still my best friend” gets us every time.
“See Me Now” has all the hallmarks of a song with true staying power. Why it hasn’t been picked up by many Top 40 radio stations is sheer mystery. A lovely pop-piano ballad, it pays tribute to Pritchard’s father who passed away when he was just a child. Here, Pritchard does an outstanding job with vocals and storytelling.
Sample lyrics: “If you could see me now / If you could see my smile / See your little boy / Oh, would you be proud?”
The song builds to a crescendo and even includes a couple Beatle-esque choruses; bravo.
Have a listen:
If You Could See Me Now
You’re also sure to appreciate fun cuts like the jangly “Forgive & Forget,” the social commentary of “It Was London” and capital dance track “Bad Habits,” currently heard on PRP.
About The Kooks
Original band members met as students attending Brighton Institute of Modern Music. They recorded a demo, hoping to pitch it to local clubs, but instead found themselves courted by record companies and were promptly signed by Virgin Records. Their debut 2006 “Inside In / Inside Out” sold two million copies.
The Kooks are: Hugh Harris, lead guitar, synth; Peter Denton, bass guitar; Alexis Nunez, drums; and Luke Pritchard, guitar and vocals.
The band enjoys experimenting with different musical genres and the new album resonates with new influences. Band members still reside in Brighton.
Diverse, upbeat tracks close out “Listen”
Rounding things out are the evocative Middle Eastern-flavored “Dreams,” joyous upbeat rhythms of “Sunrise,” and standout track “Sweet Emotion” which closes things out nicely.
The Kooks played Portland’s Wonder Ballroom in September and we hope they’ll return to the Pacific Northwest soon.