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The Kooks
Inside In/ Inside Out
Astralwerks Records

The Kooks debut album Inside In/Inside Out, produced by Tony Hoffer (Beck, Air, Supergrass), is filled with teenage tales about lust, love, and losing the love that opened up euphoric feelings for the first time. The melodies are upbeat, the rhythms spirited, and the vocals are lewd. The lads from Brighton, England who got their name from an obscure song off of one of David Bowie's albums, use dashes of jangly pop/rock with bluesy skeins, and country/folk overtones along reggae-molded sinews. They keep the levels between ballad and mid-tempo making odes to teenage hormones that blossom and peak with the first budding feelings of love and desire. They take you to a place that you either aspire to be, or remember well.

The album opens with a cute ditty called "Seaside" traipsing along the acoustic folk-seamed guitar strums and lukewarm vocals musing about being with your lover along the seashore. The song has an exhilarating air like Duran Duran's single "Save A Prayer". But the huge difference between The Kooks love-soaked numbers and Duran's is that The Kooks melodies are relatable to guys as well as flirting with gals emotions. Though the lead singer/guitarist Luke Pritchard teases girls in his lyrics very similarly to a young Mick Jagger, there is rawness in the music that attracts guys and speaks about their tangled emotions. It's not just about addressing the girls in the audience.

Pritchard's band mates - guitarist Hugh Harris, bassist Max Rafferty, and drummer Paul Garred - add cheerful tones and layers of clanging indexes to numbers like "See The World" and "She Moves In Her Own Way." The upbeat moods of the tracks are contagious. The tunage is familiar, crossing Mott The Hoople with Razorlight. The lyrics are about stories taken from private vignettes like the "Sofa Song" with phrases that speak about promiscuity and the insecurity of being in a relationship: "Here he comes/ A man with a loaded gun/ I don't know if he wants my girl's heart or her pearls/ I suppose I don't know."

The songs stay within the lyrical themes of releasing emotions that surface while being with a lover. "Eddie's Gun" has perky pop/rock registers that jump all around the place with feel good vibes that hallow "Ooh La" as well, riding along a sweet guitar riff and a sing along chorus. "Ooh La" sounds like The Kooks scored something impressive with every section of the song fitting sensually and compatibly from the vocal presses to the mirth-filled chord movements.

The bubbling drum beats in the center of "You Don't Love Me" are corked by kicking guitar hooks which then take off into blues/rock plumage with "Matchbox", tacking guitar squeezes to flashing bass moves as the animated vocals smother over the melody. The frolicking rhythms on "Naïve" are melodically toned. The tempo shifts in "I Want You" twine the guitar tethers and bring out a rise in the chorus. The shuffling drum beats on "If Only" are linked to lively guitar gaffs that ignite pure enthusiasm. "Jackie Big Tits" has sexual innuendos with an underlying breath of compassion. The country/rock acoustic crimps on "The Awaits" are attached to reggae movements and a funky vocal groove. The gentle flow of the vocals on "Got No Love" is pillared by spurts of guitar obliques that move into blues/rock conductors in the ballad "Do You Love Me Still."

The Kooks have a multi-blend of songs from blues and country to rock and reggae. The tempo movements jangle along the motions of the vocal melody and choruses. The songs are jovial and spirited and examine the depth that lovers feel for each other. The Kooks recently opened for The Pretenders and are embarking on a club tour through North America and the UK. They can be found on MTV and at myspace.com's featured to be the new artists to watch.

-Susan Frances

Track listing:
1. Seaside
2. See The World
3. Sofa Song
4. Eddie's Gun
5. Ooh La
6. You Don't Love Me
7. She Moves In Her Own Way
8. Matchbox
9. Naïve
10. I Want You
11. If Only
12. Jackie Big Tits
13. Time Awaits
14. Got No Love
15. Do You Love Me Still

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