The Kooks' Swing And Miss On Junk Of The Heart
The Kooks entered the music scene as the indie rock band that topped the charts all over the UKin 2006 with their debut album Inside In/Inside Out. With their sophomore album Konk, they reproduced that same success while retaining the band’s signature sound and lyrics. Their recently released third album Junk of the Heart, shows an attempt to bring some growth to their sound, but the band has regressed in other areas.
The album opens with the song “Junk of the Heart (Happy),” which acts as a forewarning of the stylistic changes the band has made. Still, it won’t be completely alien to fans. The lyrics are perky as ever and its easy going beats are reminiscent of songs like “Eddie’s Gun” and “Shine On” from previous albums. Laced into the song however, is a much more noticeable lightness that was rarely seen in the band’s past work.
The same lightness can be seen all over the album in songs like “How’d You Like That,” “Runaway,” and “Eskimo Kisses.” Along with the new tone, the album also introduces the band’s new use of the electric keyboard and piano combo that was rarely ever used in older albums. While some might find this new addition to the bands arsenal of instruments as a step forward, it only appears as a hindrance to the strong points of the band.
Only in softer songs do the keyboards drop out of the picture Harris’ softer guitar play shines through. Unfortunately, that still doesn’t display his normally harder guitar playing, and takes away from one of the strongest aspects of The Kooks. So despite my initial hopes of finding songs like “Sway” or “Always Where I Need to Be” in the album, I’m stuck with the lesser half of Harris’ skill.
In previous albums, the Kooks’ focus in instruments has always been the signature guitar playing of Hugh Harris. Now with the new instruments, Harris’ normally hard rock guitar riffs seemed to be muted out by the piano and keyboard that seems to dominate a good portion of the album.
The Kooks have never been known for being the most lyrically mature band to hit the scene. During their initial release, they were criticized for having juvenile lyrics that more or less took away from the experience of the band. In Konk, the band tried to mature and made such a noticeable difference that reviews actually compared them to the Artic Monkeys.
Despite whatever progress they may have made in their weakest area over the years, all of that kicked into reverse for JOTH. With lyrics like “She’s like a rose without the thorns/She’s like a sun flower that/ Never looks back at the sun,” it’s hard to take the band very seriously. These cheap middle-school lyrics are found all over the album and it seems that Luke Pritchard put little to no thought into incorporating meaning into his songs.
The album still managed to offer some notable songs like “**** the World Off” and “Killing Me” which didn’t derail too far from The Kooks’ older style of music. As a whole though, the album was crudely put together and attempted something that did nothing for the band’s improvement.