Review: The Kooks

The Kooks' Konk

If the latest effort from the Kooks is any indication, then Britpop is alive and well in Brighton. Hailing from the same coastal city that brought us fellow postmodern-throwbacks the Go! Team and the Pipettes, the Kooks present an infectious collection of British guitar-pop on their latest release. Konk, the band’s second full-length, is filled with the same dancey rock ‘n roll that made international stars out of the Kaiser Chiefs and Supergrass. The Kooks’ don’t exactly reinvent the wheel with Konk, but that doesn’t seem to be their intention. Instead, the lads seem content to put a fresh coat of paint and some new chrome onto dad’s Vespa and take it out for a ride.

Luke Pritchard (vocals, guitar), Hugh Harris (guitar) and Paul Garred (drums), along with the recently exited Max Rafferty (bass), aren’t shy about letting their influences show. The band draws their name from a little-known Bowie song and has served as an opening act for the Rolling Stones, while Konk itself is an indirect reference to The Kinks (via Konk Studios, which happens to belong to Kinks frontman Ray Davies). These allusions should give you a good idea of the kind of sound that the Kooks strive for. The band owes just as much to the initial wave of Britpop bands, though, and Konk itself feels a little bit like Parklife‘s younger, lovesick brother.

The songs on Konk are occasionally formulaic, but there are enough interesting nuances (such as the shoegazing guitar flourishes on “Gap” and the off-kilter solos on “See The Sun” that recall the guitar work of Ash’s Tim Wheeler) to make the album a worthwhile listen. I’m not sure what to make of the Franz Ferdinand knock-off, “Do You Wanna,” which sounds a bit like a safe, less ambitious reinterpretation of, you guessed it, FF’s “Do You Want To.” The remaining tracks on Konk are never that derivative, though, and there are several highlights in the album’s latter half (particularly “Down To The Market”) that make the entire affair consistently entertaining. The Kooks may be fueled by nostalgia, but their latest effort is still a satisfying listen.

— Curt Whitacre