Signed by a major label only three months after forming, Brighton’s The Kooks lived up to that show of faith with breakthrough single “Naïve” in 2006, off of debut Inside In/Inside Out. 2008’s follow-up Konk (QRO review) had the same pop/rock hooks, if not quite any single on the level of “Naïve”. Third record Junk of the Heart has a single with serious hook, but otherwise is lightweight even for this lightweight band.
Opener/title track “Junk of the Heart (Happy)” is cheesy like a sixties pop song, but also extremely infectious. A pity, then, that the rest of the album only copies the cheese. From ‘up with people’ second track “How’d You Like That” on, The Kooks remove whatever rock their pop/rock once had, for lite with a capital T. It’s hard to remember any other songs, and there’s not really a good reason to do so – the sad sway to “Rosie” doesn’t stand out, “Taking Pictures of You” is relaxed to the point of laziness, “Fuck the World Off” is underdeveloped (and nowhere earns using the f-bomb), while the strings of “Time Above the Earth” and “Runaway” are entirely unnecessary – as are the synths of “Killing Me” & first (and far lesser) single “Is It Me”. Only in the final two tracks, the cheerier and more enjoyable “Eskimo Kiss” and rock-sway “Mr. Nice Guy”, does Junk rise again – but only to the level of songs with (not ironic) titles like “Eskimo Kiss” and “Mr. Nice Guy”.
The Kooks were always just a youthful pop band, and never anything alt or even much rock. Junk of the Heart is blandly enjoyable, but even The Kooks don’t have to be this bland.
MP3 Stream: “Junk of the Heart (Happy)“