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The Kooks
Konk
Astralwerks/EMI Records
www.thekooks.co.uk


The Kooks showed themselves to be astute at composing sing-along tunes with a flare for acoustic rock and country-tinged folk moldings on their first release from Astralwerks entitled Inside In/Inside Out. The British rock quartet has scored a second round of their special brand of power pop with their latest release Konk, produced by Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air). Band members Luke Pritchard (lead vocals), Hugh Harris (guitar), Max Rafferty (bass), and Paul Garred (drums) are proficient at writing songs that bring out the best in their playing. The songs have their limitations, and though they don't go far from their center of acoustic rock chromosomes, the band still makes each tune have its own rhythmic lining and vocal persona. And topping each song are lyrics about girls, girls, girls.

Though the songs lead in with a catchy toe tapping rhythmic loop or shooting arrows of guitar etudes, the music is form-fitted to Pritchard's vocals. The folds of harmonizing phrases in tracks like "See The Sun" and "Always Where I Need To Be" are wired nicely, so the melodies roll easily like the cloudy froth of whipped cream layered on top of a soufflé. Every track has a melodic rock diorama which shows traces of folk-rock sierras moat by Brit-pop hoops. The chord shifts create sloops and highs like in "Mr. Maker" creasing the melody with natural quivers and a free-flowing momentum. Although the songs share a likeness to a number of other bands on the market, The Kooks have a distinguishable sound, which keeps them on the same island as the others, but sections them off, carving out their own quarter. Much like when you hear Regina Spektor and know that it is her, when you hear The Kooks, you know it is them. Their music is recognizable and appeases an innate sense of melodic tunage built into humans. The band never sways into being extremely wild or extremely sedate, they keep to a middle ground like in "Shine On" and "Tick Of Time" where all ends connect like they are from the same family. The songs are rhythmically sturdy and keep to a code of being aurally pleasing, which The Kooks have perfected in their playing.

If The Kooks were compared to a speed skater, they would be like Apolo Anton Ohno who wins some races and loses some but is always identifiable and people are happy with his performance. Folk, rock, Brit-pop, and country is a combination that many people don't believe can be compatible, but half way through Konk and you are bound to be hooked.

-Susan Frances


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