Inside In/Inside Out

The Kooks

Virgin, 2006

http://thekooks.com

REVIEW BY: Paul King

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/29/2008

Taking their name from a track on David Bowie’s Hunky Dory, The Kooks emerged from the shadow cast by the Arctic Monkeys over the British music scene to become one of the most popular and exciting guitar bands of 2006. Reaching the number one spot on the UK album charts with their debut, Inside In/Inside Out (a record now certified as quadruple platinum), the band’s profile continued to rise steadily throughout the year due to a string of fiendishly catchy top-ten singles.

The album opens in an uncharacteristic fashion with the gently low-key, acoustic ballad “Seaside.” It’s a song that perfectly evokes the cold, windswept melancholy of Britain’s coastal resorts and their crumbling Victorian façades. As the album’s first track, it’s a strange choice, being the sort of moody and thoughtful song that would more usually be found towards the end of a record. It’s also a red herring for much of what follows, but my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Inside In/Inside Out is all the more refreshing for beginning in this slightly unorthodox fashion.

The second track, “See The World,” is much more indicative of the group’s trademark sound with its blustery guitars and dizzying air of teenage exuberance. Lead singer and guitarist Luke Pritchard’s lazy and affected vocal style, which owes much to the influence of The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas, is underpinned here by a frenetic bed of raucous guitar noise that quickly establishes the band’s preferred sound palette.

Another highlight is “Eddie’s Gun,” which at first glance may seem to have been written about Luke Pritchard’s ex-girlfriend, singer-songwriter Katie Melua. In fact, the song describes the breathless excitement of making flirtatious, mutual eye contact with a member of the opposite sex, coupled with a nagging anxiety of erectile dysfunction. And let’s face it: there aren’t too many rock songs on that subject!

The cheekily titled “Jackie Big Tits” is another fine track and actually possesses a lot more lyrical substance and maturity than the title might initially suggest. But perhaps the best track of all is the uplifting and highly contagious anthem“She Moves In Her Own Way,” a song which seemed to be blaring from radios everywhere during the summer of 2006, ensuring its place in the hearts of indie kids the length and breadth of Great Britain.

With a sound like a smart hybrid of The Kinks, Supergrass and The Clash, The Kooks’ Inside In/Inside Out is a sassy, hook-laden treat for fans of British indie rock, packed to the seams with exquisitely formed three-and-a-half minute slices of pop perfection. Stylistically, it echoes the best of British guitar pop but it also allows itself a few diversions into more eclectic territory, like the Delta Blues style intro of “Time Awaits” or the faux-reggae bounce of “Matchbox.” All in all, it’s an incredibly promising debut album from a band with the tunes and the talent to go a very long way indeed.

Rating: B+

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