• Kooks
  • Inside In / Inside Out (Virgin) 2006 
  • Konk (Virgin) 2008 

Essentially a British response to the success of the Strokes and dismissed by many as a post-boy-band-era boy band, or, even more sinister, an indie boy band, the Kooks formed in Brighton, England in 2004 and signed to Virgin soon after. At heart a modern pop rock band marketed as an alternative rock band, the band claims an emotional connection to classic British artists (they’re named after an early Bowie lyric, they recorded at Ray Davies’ studio, NME claims they’re Clash fans), though in interviews they suspiciously avoid detailed discussions of their influences. Nonetheless, Inside In / Inside Out and its successor, Konk, bear strong resemblances to the iconic American indie rock sound of Spoon (circa Gimmie Fiction).

The debut was supposedly written about lead Kook Luke Pritchard’s ex-girlfriend, Katie Melua. “You Don’t Love Me” has the recurring lyric “You don’t love me / that I love you” and ends with “You don’t love me / You don’t care.” “She Moves in Her Own Way” is a charmingly catchy piece of adoration, while “Eddie’s Gun” is a jangly cooker about erectile dysfunction.

Konk, recorded at and named after the studio owned by Ray Davies, is more objective, though nostalgic sounding ditties like “See the Sun” hint that the sores have yet to heal completely. On the other hand, “Do You Wanna” includes the poetic chorus “Do you wanna / Do you wanna / Do you wanna make love to me?” and explores the band’s rock star side. Hard to pinpoint and hard to justify, the Kooks walk the contemporary line that erases the distinction between indie cred and the commercial simulation of it.

[Jack Partain]