Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Kooks deliver a mix of classic indie and experimentation on ’10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark’

For an indie-pop/rock band from Brighton, The Kooks have risen to impressive heights of success, with the recent 15th-anniversary celebration of their first album, ‘Inside In, Inside Out’, a testament to their longevity. This staying power can partly be attributed to the band carving out a niche for themselves early in the 2000s – wry, drawling quickness of wit on top of guitar strums and grungy beats. 

With their last few projects, they have branched out to a sound built around pop lightness, with 2018 album ‘Let’s Go Sunshine’ losing some element of their unique touch. Their new release, a collection of songs entitled ’10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark’, sees the boys find a middle ground between experimenting with mainstream styles and keeping their signature spark.

‘Cold Heart’, the first single, released at the end of June, springs to life with a lively buoyancy and sets the upbeat tone of ’10 Tracks’. Lead singer Luke Pritchard’s vocal inflexions are intriguing as they take on a snarling quality in lines like “how do you turn me down?” and the track’s chorus is a catchy earworm. It was a wise choice for a first taste because it shows the band, for the first time, incorporating electronic and synth-pop elements.

The third track, ‘Jesse James’, similarly opens with laidback riffs and sharp verbiage such as “Genghis Kahn was not the only one / To try and rule the world from his home phone”. It then rises into an electro-pop chorus which floats on the sentiment that “everything is gonna be all right”. This exploration of new and varying musical genres adds a playful spirit to ‘10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark’, making it clear that the band are having a ball trying new things.


‘Sailing on a Dream’ mixes it up by adding a medley of new instruments into the indie-rock fray. A sonic and lyrical ode to creativity and imagination, it sees Pritchard weaving together the fantastical images of “crying out your tears into tangerines” and “climbing down your necklace to your lips”. Meanwhile, ‘Beautiful World’, a collaboration with the German rock band Milky Chance, is a ska-influenced tune about looking on the bright side of life even when it's hard. “It’s such a fucked up world / But I’m glad we’re livin’ in it,” Pritchard sings, inviting comparison to tumultuous real-world issues. And continuing the trend of cultural commentary, ‘Modern Days’ provides a darker look at the troubled contemporary mind, with a catchy central riff that is one of the best on the album.

 Amid a few not-so-memorable poppy tunes that will snugly fit into late summer playlists is the album closer ‘Without a Doubt’, which pays tribute to The Kooks' sonically dialled-down roots. It sticks close to an isolated guitar backing and is a sweet ode to love that persists through challenging times. A fitting conclusion to a body of work that will both satisfy long-time fans and hook new listeners.


The Kooks are currently on the road performing at festivals around the world. You can grab tickets to one of their UK dates at Y Not Festival, Kendal Calling, Bridlington Spa, and Electric Picnic to give these tunes the celebration they deserve!  



Eleanor Burleigh


Image: ’10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark’ Official Album Cover

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