Review Summary: Pleasant, only now the promise is gone.
Whenever musical acts reject everything they have been known to offer, there’s always a tendency for danger. The safety net is destroyed with a new sound, and a different bearing is issued. Even if everything is clinically executed, a number of previously adoring fans may move on with disappointed outlooks. Although, if an artist is just going to put out an album for the sake of the exact same listening experience, it’s an almost certain outcome that they’ll be left with a similar amount of followers. So why, when the potential is stripped away with the second difficult album, are The Kooks trying to conceal themselves in the supposed mirror Konk
Just observing the title it’s natural to gauge the simplicity of the group’s latest effort. While quirky on the outside, the title loses its edge as it is explained as being named after the studio in London where the album was recorded - the inventive nuance is lost immediately. Furthermore, a double-disc release with seven pieces of new material is to be named RAK
– again the studio that spurred the latest numbers. Perhaps this leaves fans something to worry about – an early indication of writer’s block.
To the album’s credit, it disproves the blatant theories it’s excessively burdened with - citied with suspicions of unimaginative, repetitive uselessness. Coming off the back of their debut album, Inside In/Inside Out
, there was no way the band could have enclosed themselves in similarities without receiving bitter ‘tribute-band’ references; so many losing interest in assuming the album would be the same bouncy, fun record – and thus squandering both characteristics at the same time. Indeed, the foundations Inside In/Inside Out
assured were as much a learning curve as a downfall for the band. Some moments - whether accidentally on purpose, or fully intended – can better the band’s predecessor easily. “See The Sun” opens the album neatly, building on booming, sweeping guitar that feels spaced out, dominating the song to brag some catchiness. While it does nothing new for the genre (nor even for the band itself) it is arguably rare proof that the band is not trying to mimic their old sound, but trying to polish it into a more exciting outing. “Always Where I Need To Be” continues the bursting early stages of the album, with a typically memorable chord progression carrying Pritchard’s questionable vocals stating I always thought/I would end up with you, eventually
This may be far from innovative, but by the end of Konk
no-one will be complaining. As the album is rushed into a resolution, “Tick Of Time” estranges the band’s trademark sound entirely for the worse. Inaptly titled, the relaxed track feels tuneless, with irritating laughing and background musings feeling like a kick in the face as the song becomes spoilt by its barely accomplished acoustic riffs and telling lyrics Get out this situation and feel fine
– ruining not only itself, but in the process the tone of the album.
At the other, extreme end of the spectrum, “Do You Wanna” feels like a plea for something original; a failed attempt at being sleazy with clichéd and laughable lyrics Do you wanna/Do you wanna/Do you wanna make love to me
causes the band finally to become a parody of themselves, only salvaged by its radio-friendly pseudo-aggressive nature. But four tracks into an album that has done nothing but that thus far, does anyone really want another anthem? Therein, does anyone really want a hurried, uninspired ending? Bland “Down To Market” feels as if it has been done before on the album far too much, with its loud, sneaky sharp guitar having an identical essence to it as every other track on the album. “One Last Time” presents capability and becomes the closest thing to a decent acoustic track – however it’s over so soon that it can never come miraculously to life.
It’s just harder now to ascertain The Kooks now. When the promise was so brilliantly mapped and abruptly discouraged by critics and fans alike, you can’t help but ponder if Konk
will divert The Kooks from some budding talent, or just verify that they’ve ran out of steam already – if their album titles aren’t already a worrying giveaway. While it has saving graces, and is not simply an attempt at a carbon copy of the debut that put the band in such accepted esteem, it definitely signals a weary, perturbed band with little ambition.