The Kooks - Listen

by Nse Ette Rating:8 Release Date:2014-09-01

The Kooks sound almost like a new band on album number four, 'Listen'. Produced by Inflo, who brings his hip-hop touch to the potpourri of sounds, opening track 'Around Town' juxtaposes choral flourishes of "Oh yeah!" with skittery beats.

'Forgive & Forget' starts off twangy and acoustic before settling into a funky groove reminiscent of INXS. 'Westside' is a lovely midtempo number with delicious guitar-flicks, tinkling percussion, and a martial beat break. 'See Me Now' is a tender piano ballad directed at lead singer Luke Pritchard's dad who died when he was very young. "If you could see me now/ If you could see my smile/ See your little boy/ would you be proud?" he sings as the music and harmonies swell around him. "Well I've been a lot of places/ I learned to tie my own tie too," he ends affectingly. 

'It Was in London' is a retro-sounding rocker with lyrics touching on the riots with squealing guitars. Similar is the wickedly catchy 'Bad Habit'. This album marks the debut of new drummer Alexis Nunez and, especially on this pair of tracks, he shines.

Everything stands out; 'Down' laces handclaps in an almost skeletal groove with just the right sprinkling of melody; 'Dreams' is acoustic loveliness perfectly showcasing Pritchard's winsome vocals; 'Are We Electric' is euphoric shimmery pop; the hand-clap-driven 'Sunrise' has a Latin lilt with rich percussion, while closing cut 'Sweet Emotion' finds Pritchard alternating between a soft falsetto and his regular raggedy yelp, and has a lovely jazzy piano coda.

A lot of work and heart went into this album. You can still hear traces of the band that gave us 'Naive' and 'She Moves in Her Own Way', but for the most part they sound rejuvenated and full of ideas. Listen should get more people to do just that and take them more seriously too.

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