This post first appeared on GigJunkies.com. Photo credit: Andy Jones Photography
I very clearly remember the year The Kooks brought out ‘Inside In / Inside Out’. It was the summer I went to my very first music festival (Oxegen, Ireland) and I recall them playing the NME stage in frightening detail; a highly rowdy crowd, pints flying everywhere, teenagers pushing and shoving each other around to the point the band had to stop playing to calm everyone down. Boys and girls were all there to bounce along to the ridiculously catchy, summery, pop-rock. They were a completely accessible indie band with boy band good looks. It was cool to like them, and most people actually really did. It was no real wonder that album performed so well, putting them firmly on the map.
Eight years later and The Kooks are about to release their fourth album ‘Listen’ after a good amount of time out of the spotlight. The indie music scene has changed massively since that early album. New, young indie bands seem to be less likely to break into the ‘Top 10′ and gain widespread recognition and mainstream following. Is there still a place for the upbeat, pop-style offerings of The Kooks?
The answer is undoubtedly, yes. The first couple of singles from the new album, ‘Down’ and ‘Around Town’ show evidence of a clearly matured sound, and a different one to the bright, breezy indie-pop of before. Lead singer Pritchard describes it himself as percussion sonnets, alluding to the increased focused on different rhythms for the band. It’s not bubblegum lyrics and light melodies anymore. It pays off. The resulting sound is much stronger, it has a deeper and earthier quality to it. The Kooks no longer sound like they’re young guys trying so hard to be rock stars. They sound confident and to be honest, there’s a funky style to this new material. Their influences have started to become more evident. ‘Hooray for Henry’, a track criminally relegated to B-side status on the EP ‘Down’, sounds like a distant relative of the Rolling Stones’s ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Sympathy for the devil’. Delightfully, they haven’t lost the fun, carefree side to their sound though. They still sound like a band from Brighton. ‘Forgive & Forget’ has all the makings of a summer tune despite it’s surprisingly sad breakup lyrics. Everything about these singles suggests this new album will delight old fans and bring new ones.
The recently played a sold out show at Terminal 5 in New York, earning some strong reviews; seemingly Pritchard’s continuing charm and good looks haven’t hurt in helping to hold on to that core fan base. The fact that they are still selling out venues around the world shows the influence of that first album. They’ve retained fans for the best part of a decade, which is no small achievement. Watch out for live shows around the world throughout the rest of the year because seeing new album ‘Listen’ performed live is bound to be a treat.
The band’s Fourth Album ‘Listen’ is out on September 8th.
The Kooks return with a 13 date tour across the UK in November:
Thu 6th – LEICESTER, O2 Academy
Fri 7th – BRIGHTON, Dome
Sat 8th – MANCHESTER, Academy
Mon 10th – NEWCASTLE, O2 Academy
Tue 11th – ABERDEEN, Music Hall
Thu 13th – LEEDS, O2 Academy
Fri 14th – SHEFFIELD, O2 Academy
Sat 15th – BIRMINGHAM, O2 Academy
Mon 17th – BRISTOL, O2 Academy
Tue 18th – CAMBRIDGE, Corn Exchange
Wed 19th – BOURNEMOUTH, O2 Academy
Fri 21st – NORWICH, UEA
Sat 22nd – CARDIFF, Uni Great Hall
The Kooks are: Luke Pritchard – vocals and guitar, guitarist Hugh Harris, bassist Pete Denton and drummer Alexis Nunez.