And so, after three years, the Brighton quartet, known for their catchy guitar hooks and easy-to-listen to pop sound, has returned. What they were doing those three years, I’m not sure anyone knows or will ever find out, for they surely must not have been making music. The material on their latest release, Junk of the Heart, could not have taken more than a year to write and record. Not that it’s bad. Simply that I find it hard to believe that they were giving it a 100% effort. Especially when the album comes in at a measly 36 minute run-time.

The music itself is the usual Kooks stuff, best described as “indie pop”. The usual Brit-pop influences are all there, such as the Beatles on “Petulia” and a bit of Coldplay on “Time Above the Earth”, a song that has potential and just needs some elaboration. Supposedly, LCD Soundsystem’s “This Is Happening” served as some inspiration to Kook’s frontman Luke Pritchard. While not obviously apparent, there are some tracks that do reflect Murphy’s genius sound, such as Runaway which almost sounds like something off Demon Days. Perhaps if Pritchard had allowed himself to be even more so influenced, this album could have really taken an interesting and worthwhile direction. Instead, it very much follows and continues the current Kooks path, which, for most fans, isn’t a bad thing; it’s just not quite different for the rest of us. Any expectation of anything tremendously different should immediately be thrown out the window.

Interestingly enough, the single that was released in North America prior to the release of the actual album, as is normal in the music industry, is different than the one released in the UK. “Junk of the Heart (Happy)” was the single released here, instead of “Is It Me”. What’s curious is why they did that, as “Is It Me” is a better song. Also, a song noticeably absent from the full album but present on the single EP, regardless of region, is “Winds of Change (The Magic Shop, NYC)”; a song coming in at 6 minutes that I would dare to say is their best on this album, except it’s annoyingly not actually on the album, as of this printing. Perhaps it’ll show up later on a deluxe version.

Overall, while more gentle than their previous album, Konk, I do believe it is an improvement. While most of the songs are forgettable, they’re not as forgettable as on previous albums. It’s nothing incredible; it’s not going to win Grammys or top charts, and I doubt it’ll even win any New Musical Express Awards. But it’s just what Kooks fans love and want to hear more of; they’ll have no problem listening to this album over and over again. Everyone else will find it to be an entertaining, fun, and worth listening to, but will take away nothing more than, “It’s ‘aight”. 6/10

You’ll Like:

  • Those signature guitar hooks
  • That easy-to-listen, end-of-summer, fun-Brit-pop sound
  • It sounds like every other Kooks album

You Won’t Like:

  • Short run-time
  • Could use more work, elaboration
  • It sounds like every other Kooks album

Listen to: Is It Me, Junk of the Heart (Happy), Eskimo Kiss, Winds of Change (The Magic Shop, NYC).

Junk of the Heart
The Kooks
Released September 13, 2011
Virgin Records

Track listing:
1. “Junk of the Heart (Happy)”
2. “How’d You Like That”
3. “Rosie”
4. “Taking Pictures of You”
5. “[Expletive] The World Off”
6. “Time Above the Earth”
7. “Runaway”
8. “Is It Me”
9. “Killing Me”
10. “Petulia”
11. “Eskimo Kiss”
12. “Mr. Nice Guy”

Ethan Huber / Chief Copy Editor

Posted in A&E

2 thoughts on “While Not Junk, It’s Certainly Not of The Heart

  1. Was not impressed with the album. While they may be “catchy as hell,” I’ve just grown bored with Pritchard and Co.

    Arctic Monkeys and plenty of other British bands rock harder, go down smoother, and just sound altogether like proper rock bands. To be fair, I’d say Mr. Huber was too kind to the Kooks for taking this long only to churn out something that felt like Pritchard’s laziness in record form.

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