“Listen” – The Kooks


Over the years, I’ve noticed that many bands, after putting out several albums of music with a similar theme or music that is decidedly “their sound,” feel the need to put out an album of music that sounds absolutely nothing like any of their old material. They do this because they want to prove to their audience that they’re a band of many talents and so their band isn’t stereotyped as one specific genre. Although occasionally this strategy plays out well (see Tegan and Sara’s surprisingly catchy ’80s-influenced Heartthrob from last year), these bands run the risk of being called very ugly things like “sell-outs.” Even worse, the bands could just end up releasing a garbage album. Enter the Kooks.

If you’re like me and love the Kooks for their indie pop-rock hits like “Ooh La” and “Junk Of The Heart (Happy),” then do the opposite of what the band’s new album says and DON’T listen to Listen. The album opens very deceptively with two pretty catchy tracks, “Around Town” and “Forgive & Forget,” but right away you can tell that the Kooks’ sound is completely gone besides frontman Luke Pritchard’s distinctive vocals. The reason for this is because Pritchard thought it would be a good idea to bring in London-based hip hop producer Inflo (discovered via Soundcloud) to help produce the record. The rest of Listen is pretty basic generic synth rock with the occasional hint of funk. The record’s first single, “Down,” was a terrible choice for a single in my opinion, especially since the chorus is literally one word and goes something like, “Down down dickity down down dicky dicky” (not to knock one word choruses of songs that are actually really awesome *cough* Nirvana *cough*). The album closes with a song called “Sweet Emotion.” And no, it is not an Aerosmith cover, so that should tell you everything you need to know right there.

Honestly, I was disappointed with Listen. Hopefully the Kooks didn’t waste too much time and effort on this album and can go back to their old awesome ways on their next LP.

-Joe MacPhee

Recommended Jams: Around Town, Forgive & Forget, It Was London


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