Let’s Go Sunshine, The Kooks 5th studio album, delivers their best set of tracks since their debut album Inside In / Inside Out in 2006.
The Kooks are a band I have enjoyed since they formed in Brighton, England, back in 2004. Their influences are everything to do with the British invasion of the 60s, great pop songs, and they’re not afraid to show their local dialect along the way.
That said, they have also frustrated the hell out of me and, I suspect, their avid fans as well. You know what I mean don’t you: you’re smitten on the first date, but the next few leave you a little bemused. You start out mesmerised by a band that excites all the senses when you hear their sound for the first time. You most likely remember where you were and what you were doing. You couldn’t wait to call a mate and tell them about the band and skite just a little that you found them first.
You revel in the way they have somehow come out with a sound that is new yet remarkably familiar. They leave you wanting more, waiting in great anticipation and belief that their next album will capture the exact same feeling you fell in love with.
And then they let you down.
The Strokes were like that for me along with Franz Ferdinand and the Arctic Monkeys, all disappointing with each new release until the latter produced AM and finally lived up to expectation. Well so it was with the Kooks.
Starting with Konk there were wonderful highlights like See the Sun, and Shine On but the double album lost its way. Again, Junk Of the Heart, with the title track, and It’s Killing Me, a wonderful song about one-sided relationships, offered much promise but overall didn’t deliver the complete package.
Listen followed the same road. It had tracks that showed glimpses of a band finally finding their mojo with the introduction of synths with Westside, and Forgive And Forget. It also had the tearjerker See Me Now, which captures many elements that sons can relate to when losing a father too soon. But overall the album was mixed at best.
So this takes us to Let’s Go Sunshine and its intro leading off with an echo chant in the background with “here’s having a good time honey” setting the scene and the feel of the album.
Right from the start, the first track, Kids, leaves you under no illusion there is a different wind blowing along here, and you get the sense something quite special is possible this time.
Lead vocalist and chief songwriter Luke Pritchard doesn’t hold back as they jump into the track with guitars blazing and a slightly grungy sound cascading over the song, driving it from start to finish. Not overly produced it really gets the toes tapping and a great way to begin to the album.
All the Time leads with bass player Peter Dutton slappin to a slower beat, leading again to a more furious chorus filled with strings and synths calling out “ I want you to be here all the time, I want you to be here until I die” suggesting a new love was part of the inspiration here and a cracking track.
Believe has a slightly more eerie and atmospheric feel but contributes well to the previous openers and brings a cohesion not seen for some time. As does Fractured and Dazed, which brings a more traditional Kooks sound of times gone past. Infectious lyrics and lovely melody just bring the sunshine promised and the song is a neat finish to the first set of tracks.
Chicken Bone opens with the simple start reminiscent of Seaside, the opening track of Inside In /Inside Out but that’s where it stops. This is where the Kooks deliver their signature sound and feel, but fresher and more mature than before. A great sing-along, it was one of the early tracks released in the previous months, which gave me hope, along with Four Leaf Clover and Tesco Disco, with their Smiths 60s jangly guitar sound leading both to flower power pop.
It’s worth mentioning that while there might be one or two tracks too many on this album (14 in total) there isn’t one that you would say was a filler. They really have refreshed their sound and concentrated on their influences through the whole album.
Case in point are the tracks Honey Bee, Pamela, and Weight Of The World continuing the lazy 60s sound with pace and tightness that allows the meandering spring colours and melancholy of times gone by to glide past. It’s very easy to see yourself on a Sunday afternoon playing this album end-to-end and wondering where the time has gone, which is just the way many of us would like to wind down and wash off the daily pressures of life.
That’s why the closing track, No Pressure, completes the album perfectly and tidies everything up rather nicely, connecting the intro of the album, which ends up being of course the chorus to the song, and the journey is complete. It’s pure pop that you could imagine many signing in a Brighton bar at closing time.
Let’s Go Sunshine has a bit of everything, but everything you want. The weight of expectation on Luke Pritchard seems to have melted off his shoulders. It appears he has stopped listening to others about what he should do, honing not only the ability to write simple pop songs with his unique signature vocals, but also finally creating an album that is more mature and consistent than others past and stacks up well among his contemporary peers.
Put some sunshine into your playlist or album collection today and take the time to smell the flowers along the way. You won’t be disappointed.
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Released: 31 Aug 2018