The Kooks: Junk of the Heart

The Kooks
Junk of the Heart
(Virgin Records)

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You can’t put a label on the Kooks. They’re pop, but they’re not pop. They’re rock, but they’re not rock.  They’re indie, but they also have a mainstream feel to them. They have their own unique sound that defines them and sets them apart from other indie bands. Their latest album, Junk of the Heart, is the perfect embodiment of their musical style.

Released in early November, Junk of the Heart hasn’t been met with the same warm reception that their initial release was (2006’s Inside In/Inside Out), but it’s still a solid album, filled with feel-good melodies (such as in the album’s namesake track “Junk of the Heart (Happy)”) and provocative technique, such as in the rigid “Fuck the World Off”—give it a listen, and you’ll know what I mean.

The best track on the album is “Is It Me”—the album’s first single. Written by Luke Pritchard, the band’s frontman, the song tells the story of Pritchard growing up fatherless after he died when Pritchard was an infant—“We all need someone to guide us/Someone to introduce the show/I needed someone just like you/Someone to let me know/I could lose it all.” The lyrics are pretty straightforward, but the song’s complexity could be found in the drum patterns, played by the band’s percussionist, Paul Garred. The quick, complicated rhythm so perfectly mimics the underlying difficulty of Pritchard’s story.

Of course, as is most often the case, the album doesn’t hold a candle to seeing these guys perform live. The Kooks just announced a US tour, starting later this month, and after seeing them perform an explosive show to a sold-out Webster Hall a few months ago, this critic highly recommends checking these guys out.

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