August 29, 2018 The Kooks – Let’s Go Sunshine (Album Review)
Formed in 2004, in Brighton, England, The Kooks catapulted to commercial popularity amidst the resurgence of Post-Punk/New Wave music in the mainstream in the mid-2000s via their multi-platinum debut album, 2006’s Inside In / Inside Out. Placing number-two on the UK Albums Chart that year, The Kooks’ maiden full-length spawned several singles, which included “Eddie’s Gun,” “Sofa Song,” “You Don’t Love Me,” “Naïve,” “She Moves in Her Own Way,” and “Ooh La.” Three albums more followed; and four years after the last, The Kooks are ready to unleash their latest offering.
Scheduled to come out on Friday, August 31, 2018, on Lonely Cat/AWAL Recordings, The Kooks’ fifth, titled Let’s Go Sunshine, never lost the band’s penchant for youthful bounciness, saccharine melodies, and ’60s Sunny Pop-inspired catchiness.
Let’s Go Sunshine opens properly with the four-on-the-floor, angular stomper “Kids.” The atmosphere then turns suave and moody with the Soul/Disco-infused swagger of “All the Time” and then builds up into the big, assured sound of “Believe.”
The acoustic-oriented, sweetly melodic “Fractured and Dazed” may be regarded as one of the album’s highlights – oozing with New Wave sensibilities and glazed with ’80s/’90s nostalgia. A bit melancholic yet still upbeat, “Chicken Bone” with its slide guitar is a morning trek to the countryside. It will fit right in on a playlist that includes Toad the Wet Sprocket’s “Fly from Heaven,” Gin Blossoms’ “Till I Hear It from You,” and Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out.”
“Four Leaf Clover” then picks up the pace, taking the listener back to the distinct sound of 2000s Indie Rock, alongside other purveyors of the decade, such as The Libertines (“Time for Heroes”), The Killers (“Change Your Mind”), and Kaiser Chiefs (“Modern Way”). A triumvirate of bright moments come next in succession: the Psychedelic/Shoegaze/Dreampop-tinged “Tesco Disco;” the Pastoral/Indie Pop “Honey Bee,” which may recall the initiated of World Party’s “Put the Message in the Box” and even The Pretenders’ “Back on the Chain Gang;” and the ’80s New Wave-textured “Initials for Gainsbourg,” exuding faint wintry predispositions of the likes of The Church (“Metropolis”), The Dream Academy (“The Love Parade”), and Aztec Camera (“Somewhere In My Heart”).
The Kooks – currently comprised by Luke Pritchard (lead vocals, guitar), Hugh Harris (lead guitar, backing vocals, piano, keyboards, bass), Peter Denton (bass, backing vocals, guitar), and Alexis Nuñez (drums, percussion) – then shift the gear higher with the driving rhythm of “Pamela,” only to turn starry-eyed with the slow, string-laden ballad “Picture Frame.” The ensuing “Swing Low” is a throwback to ’90s Britpop, in the veins of Oasis (“Don’t Look Back in Anger”) and Ocean Colour Scene (“The Day We Caught the Train”).
The penultimate, piano-led, horn-adorned track, “Weight of the World,” is a Beatles-esque nugget of inspired, romantic balladry. Finally, The Kooks wrap up the sunshine in their pockets with the relaxing Country suburban breeze of “No Pressure.”
Among the batch of Alternative/Indie bands that emerged in the 2000s, The Kooks prove to be one of the enduring and resilient. Their music has definitely matured, yet their sense for well-woven musicality has not only improved but also expanded into a broader spectrum of aural shades and hues. CrypticRock gives Let’s Go Sunshine 4 out of 5 stars.