The Kooks - Let's Go Sunshine

by Brian Thompson Rating:5 Release Date:2018-08-31
The Kooks - Let's Go Sunshine
The Kooks - Let's Go Sunshine

Last year, The Kooks released a greatest hits record, seemingly an acknowledgment that their finest years are behind them. After bursting onto the scene with 2006’s crowd-pleaser Inside In/Inside Out, they epitomized a wave of mid-00s UK landfill indie acts, somehow emerging from the deluge of unremarkable guitar rock bands as one of the most enduring. Each of their subsequent albums has produced diminishing returns, including their latest, Let’s Go Sunshine, an amiable enough, breezy jangle-pop effort that takes zero artistic or intellectual risks.

Let’s Go Sunshine just doesn’t seem to have any passion behind it. It feels like it was created in a lab, designed for the safe, unchallenging background noise at your average department store. Opening with a repetitive trilogy of generic ‘whoa-oh-oh’ Britpop tracks (“Kids,” “All the Time,” “Believe”), the album’s lyrical composition leaves much to be desired. Bland, uncomplicated lines like “I want you to be here all the time / I want you to be here when I die” and “Even though I didn’t love you / You made me believe” feel like the rudimentary ramblings of a preteen who’s only just discovered his base emotions. And why should we be surprised? This is the same band that once touted the lyric “A, B, C, D, E, F and G / Oh, that reminds me of when we were free.” After a break in the monotony with the somewhat inspired ”Fractured and Dazed,” the record quickly devolves into a series of tracks seemingly written for the express purpose of being used in a laundry detergent commercial (“Honey Bee,” “Initials For Gainsbourg”).

While there are never any surprises on the album, there are a handful of moments that remind listeners of the initial appeal of The Kooks. Songs like “Picture Frame” and “Tesco Disco” (which was clearly a title first) show brief flashes of promise and ingenuity in a way few Kooks tracks ever have. Just as the record is coming to a close, the band seems to be striving for something a bit more ambitious with “Weight of the World,” a stirring number complete with a spirited choral backing and a soulful horn solo. Still, it isn’t long before the peppy indie rockers are once again proving that they learned all the wrong lessons from listening to The Clash, as is evidenced by gaudy tracks like “Pamela.”

Let’s Go Sunshine will most likely appease longtime listeners of the band, but it certainly won’t win over any converts. It’s The Kooks doing what they’ve done for more than a decade. There’s no newfound level of self-assessment. There’s no sonic experimentation. Cemented with the widespread success of their debut, The Kooks found a formula that works for them, and they haven’t altered it one iota. And why should they? Fans are still filling concert halls to hear the zippy singles they put out in 2006. But even if you are one of them, there’s really no reason to blow your paycheck on this toothless album. If they weren’t before, their latest album proves that they are little more than a proficient nostalgia act. Perhaps the Brighton lads will one day challenge themselves to step out of their comfort zones, but we haven’t seen it yet.

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