Sound — 7
The Kooks have been taking a lot of flack for a number of reasons in the past year. On one hand there's the crowd that is simply annoyed by frontman Luke Pritchard's allegedly growing ego, while there's a larger group that's more bothered by the fact that the band's new record isn't quite as memorable as the debut Inside In/Inside Out. I don't really have an opinion on Pritchard's attitude, but there are some valid issues that trouble the new record Konk (named after the Ray Davies-owned studio where the album was recorded). There are the obvious radio singles that will keep you humming throughout the day, but all too often things begin to lag and the fast forward button looks a little too alluring.
Konk does tend to rely on it's radio-friendly aspect, and it's obvious the band was going for a mass appeal. Back in December Pritchard told NME that Konk is a good pop record, which for a supposed indie rock band is not such a wise thing to say. But then again, give him credit for being honest. The first single Always Where I Need To Be is the ultimate pop song, with a pleasing melody and plenty of doo-doos in the chorus. It's likeable enough, and the band's fan base should probably like the results. It's not necessarily a huge jump in a different direction, but it's still got a pretty solid arrangement.
Guitarist Hugh Harris does deserve a lot of credit for keeping things afloat throughout the CD. Every time there's a memorable moment on Konk, it usually has to do with something Harris delivered. The opening track See The Sun revolves around a gorgeous guitar tone that sounds like a hybrid of The Cure and The Stones. Harris goes above and beyond on Do You Wanna, which is a cheesy song with terrible lyrics -- but the layered guitars are phenomenal.
The record tends to get a bit stale toward the end with songs like Shine On, which just feels like a throwaway track. I will say that Down On The Market features riffs that sound like they could fit into any Strokes' song, but it's far from being as memorable as some of the lines in Reptilia or Last Nite.
Lyrics — 6
The Kooks have been teased by the band Kasabian for basically writing songs for girls. It's hard to say if they're more culpable than a lot of the other bands out today, but there is a fair helping of relationship-related material. It's well-written for the most part, except of course, for the track Do You Wanna. That particular song just makes you want to cringe when Pritchard sings, Do you wanna, Do you wanna, Do you wanna make love to me? It just lays it on a little too thick and actually takes away attention from Harris' solid guitar work.
Overall Impression — 7
As much as The Kooks impressed with their debut, it's hard to get as excited about the latest material. While it's not as horrible as some are making it out to be, it just has too many spots on it where the music is just a bit uninteresting. Pritchard still has that charismatic delivery in the vocals and Harris' guitar work carries the entire record, but the songwriting still can't compete with the hype that's been created around The Kooks.