Love songs, acoustic guitars, and a charming singer follow by a band gaming to be rock stars, this is the British band The Kooks, a band that like to play simple songs of two or three minutes (with just one exception).
The LP Inside In/Inside Out, the debut of The Kooks has 14 songs, I used to think that was the perfect number of tracks for an LP, seven tracks on each side, but I was influenced by the vinyl format of the 1960's LP. In the tape era, the perfect number of tracks were reduced to 10, but in the CD era this is not a topic. At least you could say that a debut album is preferred not to be long. In this case Inside In/Inside Out is perfect, 14 songs in 40 minutes (by the way, you can actually buy new music on vinyl).
Inside In/Inside Out could be a '60's record, or it could be another immortal gem from the British invasion if their musical ideas were new. But the LP sounds fresh in spite of its collection of '60's musical tips, the bucolic intro tune (“Seaside”) remind me of the acoustic songs of The Beatles, the rock tunes remind me of the riff guitar of The Kinks and some vocalizations, which brings to our ears the sound of The Rolling Stones (specially in the first part of the song “Time Waits”).
Although there is happy sonic presence of an acoustic guitar, this is not a quiet LP. After the bucolic intro, they attack with a strong rock song guided by a precise distortion guitar (“See The World”), this is their best featuring style: a couple of bars, a couple of lyrical lines and then they hurry the catchy choruses. With this style they produce their highlights: “Ooh La,” “You Don't Love Me,” “She Moves in Her Own Way,” and “I Want You Back.” But to be honest discount the intro song and the last two ones, and the rest of the 11 songs all have the same potential to be singles. Inside In/Inside Out is a very balanced LP, without the songs shining over the others.
Taking the distance (and please take the distance) The Kooks have produced a record with the classical line up of two guitars plus bass and drums that leave a smile in your soul, like the perfect Rubber Soul (The Beatles, 1965), the almost perfect Aftermath (The Rolling Stones, 1966), or the less perfect The Who Sings My Generation (The Who, 1965). This occurs 40 years after those albums, in the middle of the digital era, with an infinite range of technical and musical possibilities. Still, the best way to play a song that could break your heart or mend it again is with wood, strings, acoustic percussion and an engaging voice. The Kooks have done it, for goodness sake.