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Music Review: The Kooks – Junk of the Heart

posted on Nov.30, 2011

The Kooks
“Junk of the Heart”
Release Number: 3rd
Hailing From: East Sussex, England
Genre: Indie Rock
Label: Virgin Records

The Kooks began their journey back in 2004 when Luke Pritchard, Hugh Harris, Paul Garred, and Max Rafferty came together while students at Brighton Institute of Modern Music. The band was quickly picked up by Virgin Records, a mere three months after the band’s conception. The group admits they weren’t initially ready for the deal but couldn’t pass up such an opportunity. Following the recording contract, The Kooks released Inside In/Inside Out in early 2006, with favorites like “Naïve”, “She Moves in Her Own Way”, and “Ooh La”. With the release of their second album Konk, the Kooks did not receive as much critical acclaim; “Always Where I Need to Be” was the main successful track of the album. Now we get to Junk of the Heart, which has the potential to be the Kooks most successful album yet.


8/10

The album starts out with its title track “Junk of the Heart (Happy)”, which is a bit of a departure from the Kooks previous works and sets the precedent that this album will be slightly more energized and buoyant. The track is very upbeat and pop inspired, with a strong mainstream appeal. The song brings together a catchy melody and a sweet, endearing message. When listening to the track it is nearly impossible not to smile because the track truly does make one feel happy. With a high energy song like this as the opener for the album, one might expect the remainder of the EP to feature similarly styled tracks, but this is not the case.

Although every song isn’t as upbeat track, that just wouldn’t be The Kooks’ style. “How’d You Like That” is still fairly energized which makes it a good fit as second track on the album. The song is very catchy and talks of an other worldly encounter with heavenly beings, a different theme for The Kooks. Another track, “Rosie”, employs a different musical feel with acoustic guitar and a harmonizing choir which comes to light at the chorus of the song. “Taking Pictures of You” is an endearing track that is sweet and emotional. Pritchard reflects on a past love and his experiences with her. The song “Time above the Earth” has a very different theme from the rest of the tracks on the album. The song utilizes a strong string section and its lyrics reflect on life as we know it. It is a short interlude in the album that breaks up the trend of songs about love and women.

As the album continues, the song “Is It Me” reflects on a failed/struggling relationship and confusion about the past. The quick beat keeps the song fresh and juxtaposes the theme of melancholy. A track with the genuine happiness of “Taking Pictures of You” but with a more upbeat sound is “Eskimo Kiss”. The song focuses on a girl’s perfection which is exposed in the lines “She’s like the rose without a thorn/…She’s like a diamond in the rough/She’s like the first girl on this earth that you wanted to touch”. As the song continues, the tempo slows to focus in on the lyrics and emotion behind the song. A chorus of voices sings “And it goes la la la la la” and eventually narrows down to the sound of one acoustic guitar and Pritchard singing “And it goes la la la la la/Did you ever wonder why/This old world will make you cry?” This last line allows the emotions of the song to be brought to the forefront through the simplicity of the moment.

The Kooks crank out yet another album featuring Pritchard’s distinguishable voice and the band’s signature indie rock style. Junk of the Heart does incorporate more of a pop appeal and definitely has intentions based in mainstream success. The album presents a well-balanced variety with the majority of the album highlighting the same theme of love and life. The Kooks has a way of creating hits that aren’t just high energy songs, but are also softer and more emotionally derived. Overall, the album has offered a new mix that is sure to gain attention from the masses. This doesn’t mean that The Kooks have abandoned who they are; they are simply receiving more of the attention that they have always deserved.

- Heather Koenig, Music Staff


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