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Album Review: The Kooks – Listen

The Kooks

The Kooks - Listen
The Kooks – Listen

The Kooks’ new album, Listen, is comprised of a variety of inspirations ranging from rock legends such as The Rolling Stones, to Brazilian bossa nova musician Sergio Mendes. In the album’s track-by-track commentary available on Spotify, lead singer Luke Pritchard gives descriptions to every song, which allows fans to listen in a different way than before.

It all began with the single “Around Town”, the “catalyst for the record,” as Pritchard describes it. The song was the first to be recorded, which began in Luke’s home studio. According to The Kooks’ front man, everything else began to take shape around that one song. The next track, “Forgive and Forget”, has a disco-funk sound influenced by new drummer Alexis Nunez, who joined the band in 2012. The two start the album with beats that could give anyone good vibes.

In the commentary for “Westside”, Pritchard confesses that he had “always wanted to do a song like this,” and that it reminds him of “90’s nostalgia.” Fans may agree that they have always wanted to hear a song like “See Me Now”, in which Pritchard opens up personally and writes about his father who passed away when he was young.

The album was produced with the help of Inflo, a 25-year-old London-based hip-hop producer. Through his production, Inflo creatively brought The Kooks a fresh sound, different from their previous albums, such as Junk of the Heart, released in 2011. By incorporating loops and repetition in “Down” and hip-hop sonics in the band’s second most played song on Spotify, “Bad Habits, Inflo has helped The Kooks develop a sound that may be new to their fans.

Moving towards the end of the album, which concludes with “Sunrise” and “Sweet Emotion”, Pritchard mentions the influence of Brazilian music on the album. In hearing this news, my appreciation for the band heightened. I immediately listened to Sergio Mendes’ “Magalenha.” and compared its sound to Listen. I could hear the connections Pritchard mentioned and loved the sound the band decided to lean towards. “Sweet Emotion” is the final track on the album, concluding with a two-minute piano outro, played by their good friend, Tommy Antonio, and a perfect sum for the album.

Although Spotify does not offer the deluxe edition of Listen, the track-by-track commentaries do go on to describe the singles in the bonus album. These tracks include “Murderer”, which was made to sound like it would “fit in a Tarantino movie,” and “Backstabber”, the “sleazy” and “gritty” song inspired by the Rolling Stones that finishes off the bonus album.

Listen is an album with a wide range of contrasting influences; yet, The Kooks are able to deliver an album that can satisfy old and new fans alike by incorporating new funk melodies to their previous rock sound.

Hear more about the album’s influences through the track-by-track commentaries available on Spotify and buy the deluxe edition of the album. Also, dance along with The Kooks on their headlining tour this fall.