The Kooks – Junk of the Heart: Album Review

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

 After a 3 year hiatus, The Kooks are back with a brand new album! Released on September 13 2011, Junk of the Heart is a follow-up to the well-received Konk (released in 2008). Being the avid indie fan that I am, I was more than excited for this album! The Kooks are a British band who is known for their feel-good beats and poppy vocals. Their new record embodies that fun feeling, further establishing their signature sound. I’m a huge fan of The Kooks, and I’m happy to know that they haven’t let go of the colorful vibe that they’ve become so loved for.

The album begins with the title track, Junk of the Heart (Happy), a song that introduces the classic Kooks sound to the listener. The claps and ad-libs make for a very fun song; it is the perfect opener for the album. Its rhythmic aesthetics and fun lyrics remind me of why I fell in love with the band in the first place. Following this track is the groovy How’d You Like That, a song with a faint reggae vibe. The track’s guitar and piano combination gives an interesting take on reggae, and brings back the influence that is found on past songs from the British band.

The groovy time of the late ’60s is a strong factor of Junk of the Heartand its sound is first introduced in Rosie. The song is very breezy and summery; it instantly reminded me of the Beach Boys. The 60s influence continues with Fuck the World Off, a funky mid-tempo track that highlights the flexibility of the bass guitar. The sound isn’t something fans are used to, but I think the new technique works in favor of the track.

My favorite track off the record just happens to be the most experimental of them all. Runaway, the most aesthetically interesting song on the record, sounds like the love child of Hot Chip and Jimmy Cliff. The track meshes different sounds and creates a new genre, electronic reggae. It seems tricky to pull off, but The Kooks do it perfectly. The symbolic lyrics are the strongest ones from the whole album:

“You collect lovers like gem stones, You talk of them as your friends. Dangle me from your wrist chain, Another one lost to the winds of change…”

The imagery of the lyrics pairs well with the rhythm, creating the story of a torn relationship. I also love the quirks of the track, including the slowed-down ending. It was unexpected, yet the perfect way to end the song.

But Junk of the Heart does have its mishaps. Killing Me sounds like the typical indie song; there’s nothing new or refreshing about it. The dull sound of the track weighs down the poppy vibe that the first half of the album has. The lyrics are also very basic and written without thought: “I feel so cold without sun”. Petulia, another draining song that follows Killing Me, is very stripped down song with only the acoustic guitar, vocals, and some whistles.

The Kooks tried to create a nod to The Beatles with Petulia, but it was a failed attempt to re-create the classic sound. But the vibe quickly picks up where it left off with Mr. Nice Guy. This track is a good way to end the album. I love the little jolts too; they sound like an exploding subwoofer.

Junk of the Heart is a solid third record from The Kooks. The album is very referencial, bringing listeners back to the sunny times of the late 60s. It celebrates the classic “California living” hippie vibes, all while adding contemporary rhythmic touches that bring the sound into modern times. If you’re a die-hard fan of The Kooks, then this album won’t disappoint. The band stays true to their signature style but isn’t afraid to try new techniques. Be sure to keep Junk of the Heart tucked away in your car for the upcoming months; it’s the perfect album to join you on any summer adventure.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

Songs on Repeat

Rosie

Fuck The World Off

Runaway

Songs to Skip

Killing Me

Petulia

What are your thoughts on the album?

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