“The Kooks are out in the street,” where you should be, spreading the word about this fresh new band from the U.K. and their inspired debut album, Inside In/Inside Out. These young men (Luke Pritchard vocals, Hugh Harris guitar, Max Rafferty bass, and Paul Garred on drums) are driven and well versed in the power of rock. While drawing from many influences ranging from soul, punk, reggae, and good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll, these Kats give off an early Beatles/Kinks vibe. The album and songs are short, just over 44 minutes, yet they leave their mark, and leave you wanting more.
The CD opens with the acoustic “Seaside,” which sets the tone for the lyrical content, the ins and outs of relationships. Here we get a good taste of Pritchard’s voice and his awesomely thick English accent. The Kooks then kick the door open wide on “See The World” and let us into theirs, filled with thick bass lines, thundering drums, and heavy guitars with amps turned up to eleven. The vocals jump up as Pritchard shows that he can rock with the best of them.
“Eddie’s Gun” is the first single and a pop/rock masterpiece; it contains nearly everything a good tune should. The drums roll and the guitar works you into frenzy; in less than a heartbeat you’re hooked and moving with the beat they are putting down. The chorus and background vocals get you singing along and you almost forget that poor Eddie’s gun doesn’t work properly. The guitar solo is to the point and in no way overdrawn. Before you know it two minutes have past and it’s over, forcing you to play the thing at least one more time. The CD also has an enhanced portion that contains the video to “Eddie’s Gun”, so don’t forget to check that out as well. Cut from this mold, “You Don’t Love Me” is another track that will drive you mad with its heavy drums and fuzzed-out guitar.
“Ooh La” and “She Moves In Her Own Way” are where The Kooks slow down a bit, while still maintaining all of their drive and pop sensibility. The lyrical flow and chorus are what work best on “Ooh La.” The music bounces along behind the vocals. “She Moves In Her Own Way” starts out calm and picks up a little, keeping the mood bouncy and light. Dig the background handclaps on this track.
The lyrics to “Matchbox” are in step with the band’s other jump tunes and the chorus again has that sing-a-long quality to it, and yes, I am singing along as I type them: “All of us/ we're going out tonight/ gonna walk all over your cars/ The Kooks are out/ in the street/ oh they're gonna steal your skies.” “I Want You” is their “dark” number. It is complete with a heartbreak beat from the rhythm section and is surrounded by shadows and shades of The Cure.
The music stays lightly funky but carries a vibe of gloom to go with lyrics, “Take me back to the place where I/ loved this girl for all time.” There is even a muffled, creepy sounding organ at the close of this track. The band closes out the album by drawing from more of their influences on the bluesy “Got No Love” and the country/rock of “Do You Still Love Me?”, which is a song similar to one of my favorite bands, The Black Crowes.
So there you have it, folks. The Kooks’ Inside In/Inside Out is a masterful rock album debut that flows well and keeps its forward drive. So does that mean the short, catchy tunes, cutting guitar, steady funk-dripping bass lines, and solid drum thumps have this one passing Fantasma’s test of a truly great album? Can I play this disk over and over again without skipping from track to track? Yes, yes I can, and will, as should you, so hit the street and pick up a copy.
Written by Fantasma el Rey