The Kooks - Junk Of The Heart
The Kooks. Say the name out loud. You may hear some stifled snickering. Never mind that this is a band that have sold three million albums. One thing I have learned since moving to the UK is that nothing pisses off the Brits more than success. A football team does too well, wins too many games? Poncy bastards. Same thing goes for bands it would seem. They like to see them suffer, work for it, sell a measly few thousand copies of the first couple of releases and then, maybe, they can start hitting the charts. Yet some fresh-face band hits number one with their happy, unapologetically poppy feel good tunes? No "let's save the rain forests'? No "let's wipe out third world debt"? Unforgivable.
It's odd and a bit of a quandary. 'Cos this album ain't gonna make the nay-sayers too happy. Nor will my review. You want the truth? Junk Of The Heart is actually pretty good. So there. No new ground is covered, no grandiose statements. It's still just The Kooks: fun, cute, infectious. And it would seem, by some of the song titles, that the band aren't entirely unaware of their rather low reading on the indie's coolometer; the edgy 'F*ck The World Off' or album closer 'Mr. Nice Guy' (with a rather nifty Fab Four 'Twist and Shout' moment): "Don't believe in things that don't believe in you / Or the things that you do will come back on you". But it also seems they're not that bothered. Why should they be? I did mention the three million albums sold didn't I?
Highlights includes the excellent 'Rosie', and the frankly adorable 'Eskimo Kiss': "We had so much fun / She gave me an Eskimo kiss / We put our records on / And set sail towards the sun." I dare anyone not to love this. 'Times Above The Earth', with just vocalist Luke Pritchard and string quartet, takes itself a bit too seriously and slows the album's momentum down. Fortunately the laid back cool of 'Runaway', with its understated arrangement and Pritchard's wonderful voice, and the great new single 'Is It Me' puts things back on track.
Junk Of The Heart may not win the band any new fans, but it certainly won't disappoint the ones they already have. And it will probably sell another million copies - and you're just going to have to live with that.