There are certain bands that it’s just cool to say you hate. U2, Razorlight, Scouting For Girls, The Feeling... All bands blessed with a decent amount of mainstream success, yet face an onslaught of abuse for their popularity amongst, well, little girls and the tasteless. No band has fallen fouler of this than The Kooks. Their jeans are too tight, Luke Pritchard’s too posh; there are numerous theories as to why they’re ridiculed by press and public alike... And yet, most cynics have probably sung along to the ‘do- dodo-do-do-do-do,’ from ‘Always Where I Need to be’ at least once.
Inviting producer Tony Hoffer back for thirds, The Kooks have returned from a three year sabbatical with ‘Junk of the Heart.’ Once again proving that they may not always be likeable, but by heck, they can be catchy.
Aptly, single ‘Junk of the Heart (Happy)’ services as both the album’s title track and opener. Opening with a fixed drumbeat and some cheery 90’s, verging on Wannadies style guitar skills; ‘Junk of the Heart (Happy)’ remains tenaciously upbeat throughout. Its lyrics “Junk of the heart is the junk of the mind” provide a gentle deviance from your usual pop lovesong, but overall it lacks the alluring hooks Pritchard is famous for. Second inning ‘How’d you like that’ instantly jumps out as the better song. It’s a pop song with bite, a contagious chorus and won’t leave fans disappointed.
Perhaps the album’s biggest surprise is its smallest instalment. At only 1:54, ‘Time above the Earth’ is a whimsical and calming examination of life and love on the road, packed with dreamy violins and soundtrack sensitivity. ‘Petulia,’ an open love letter recited on a summers picnic, comes complete with melodic group harmonies and choral whistling, and is the band’s most delicate release since their fan-adored ‘Seaside,’ off their debut ‘Inside in, Inside out.’
‘Eskimo Kiss’ is another pop softie. With lyrics including: “She’s like the diamond in the rough, she’s like the first girl on this Earth...” it’s playful and cheery at best, and somewhat syrupy at worst. In spite of this, it’s a shame ‘Junk of the Heart’ wasn’t released slightly earlier on in the season, as it would actually make a decent and cloudless summer album.
Will ‘Junk of the Heart’ silence their haters? No. Does it set out to? No. Will they still make Radio 1’s A-Playlist? Almost definitely. At its core ‘Junk of the Heart’ is album about girls, for girls. If you’re not a fan now then you may not be converted, but you’ll probably be humming its choruses by mid-October.