Tuesday, June 3, 2008

The Kooks

Astralwerks Records

The Kooks make me feel so tired. So tired. I think reviewing their debut album drained me of any vitriol I had toward them. And now I just feel empty. And helpless. Nothing I say about this record is going to make a difference in the end. The critic has become increasingly helpless and marginalized, especially in the face of the looming blizzard of money being used to push the Pritchard brothers and their pals into the fame stratosphere. Surely Lindsey Lohan and/or Peaches Geldof is already being groomed to be the next celebrity girlfriend? Did I mention that their hair is ever-so-artfully mussed and they look better in scarves than any boy ever has the right to? A guest spot on Gossip Girl! Cutting ribbons at Wal-Mart's all over the Midwest! God anything to distract from the music!

Shake it off, man. Shake it off. I'm a Britpop fan from way back and lemme tell you, “Konk” is too leaden and market-strategized to really capture the idiot savantism of “Definitely Maybe” Oasis or the luciferian delights of “Can't Stand Me Now” or the triumphant headrush of “Common People.” This.... this is Dick Van Dyke in “Mary Poppins.” This is Keane-level neediness.

So okay, maybe they've got some new tricks. The opener sounds like the Kooks have been mainlining Television and the Strokes and for some reason "Love It All" has distant hints of Van Morrison (don't even fucking ask). And the music, the choons ain't even that bad. Given, they ain't that good (if you want GOOD scope out the new Beach House or the Kills or Child Ballads), but it's not like it's not catchy. Sure is catchy. Sure is sugary. And spiky. And glossy. So spikycatchysugaryglossy that I want to just give it up and do the Rob Gretton riff from Control where he deadpans something like, I am a believer in the church of Joy Division, hallelujah. But I'm not going to do that, because when you strip all the hype away and stare at this cd cover in the cold light of morning and think to yourself, "Shall this be the first thing I listen to today? Will this be the thing that gives me the strength to face the real world? It surely is catchy and tuneful enough. Yes, I shall." But you'll hesitate. You'll flinch. And you'll reach for, dunno, Motorhead instead. It's like the difference between a fucking jingle and a sonata. Who wants to have a stomach ache first thing in the morning anyway? Smells like hype.

In my darkest moments, I want to shake the Kooks, yell at them. Take a fucking chance, you bastards! Destroy the formula! Piss people off! I can't take any more Kinks worship! Be young, be pretentious, destroy something! But they won't, they'll just show that winning smile as the next flashbulb goes... POP.

- Matthew Moyer

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