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4 out of 5 stars
Junk of the Heart
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on September 22, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Better known in their home country of England than they are in the United States, The Kooks debut record, "Inside In/Inside Out" was released in October 2006 in the U.S., 10 months after its initial release in the U.K.

With tracks like "Naïve" and "She Moves in Her Own Way" receiving a decent amount of radio play on independent stations across the United States, The Kooks developed a decent following, but did little to set themselves apart from the vast sea of bands with a similar musical formula like Kaiser Chiefs and Arctic Monkeys.

After their second record, 2008's "Konk," was released, The Kooks ended up taking some time off, in part due to the departure of bassist Max Rafferty. Fortunately for The Kooks, this may have been what saved them. Around the same time of The Kooks' hiatus, most of their competition began to deviate from their established successful formulas into more experimental territory.

Kaiser Chiefs began to focus more on danceable beats, Arctic Monkeys teamed up with Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme for a full makeover and seemingly countless British bands followed suit with new, uncharted paths.

While these bands all attempt to regain the fans they lost during their walkabouts, The Kooks have finally returned with an album that does little to separate itself from their past efforts, much to the delight of fans. That is not to say there is nothing new on this record, however.

Splitting the album in half is "Time Above the Earth," a string quartet driven track tied to The Kooks only by lead singer Luke Pritchard's voice. The tune is definitely surprising when hidden in the folds of a generally upbeat rock record, but "Runaway" quickly brings listeners back into familiar territory and "Time Above the Earth" becomes a welcome transition instead of a confusing new direction.

The opening tune, "Junk of the Heart" picks up right where "Konk" left off with a feel-good mix of acoustic and clean electric guitar, light drums, and Luke Pritchard's vocals. Pritchard sounds a bit more like Julian Casablancas of The Strokes on this record thanks to some extra effects added by Tony Hoffer, their longtime producer, but fans of either band will not likely complain.

As "Junk of the Heart" progresses, The Kooks begin to add in little changes here and there to keep things fresh, but the changes are not nearly as jarring as those made by their contemporaries. "Taking Pictures of You" adds in a wave of synths and reversed guitar effects, but the song easily remains radio ready with the acoustic guitar and vocals passing through production unscathed.

Even the album's closer, "Mr. Nice Guy," finds a familiar comfort in Pritchard's voice while the backing instrumentation is given the freedom to wander into the realm of distorted guitars and piano.

In the chorus of the title track, Pritchard sings "I wanna make you happy, I wanna make you feel alive." This could just as easily be a message for fans of The Kooks as it is for the subject of the song. Instead of experimenting with the formula that made them famous, The Kooks embraced it and returned with an album for their fans. "Junk of the Heart" is rarely original, but it is consistently enjoyable. Isn't that why we listen to music?

Similar Artists: The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys
Track Suggestion: "Junk of the Heart"
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 15, 2011
Format: Vinyl
The Kooks never fail to deliver. This album is great, but I have to say it's not their best. Some of their songs sound very generic, like some top 40's pop song. However, a lot of them reminds oneself of why we all love the Kooks. All in all, I'll have to say it's a great purchase :)
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 21, 2011
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Brit pop has really...well not progressed all that much in the last half-decade. This band was destined to be the best of these bands but a sweet tooth production has this band sounding like the Monkeys (but not the Arctic ones...)from years past. If this is the best collection of songs this band has in their studio then well, their audience of teen chicks will be there for awhile and then go to college. This is a lazy uninspired effort of washed out pop tunes that barely grab you. It's truly amazing how many of these Brit bands take themselves so seriously on their 3rd albums that they all sound so self-consciously bad. The Kooks have better in them.
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Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
When pop musicians know what they're doing, they make you happy, and that's the effect the Kooks have on this album. Its hooks, harmonies, and lyrics are all designed to delight. On the title track, Luke Pritchard sings "I wanna make you happy, I wanna make you feel alive," and he means it.

"Junk of the Heart" is the Brighton-based band's third studio album since 2006. Its themes of happiness and love are wrapped in an irresistibly warm sound, but the music isn't precious by any means. These are polished songs from a band that has perfected its writing and playing. While surrounding the lead vocals with the traditional rock triad of guitar, bass, and drums, Pritchard and company add a big palette of sonic effects, percussion, and synthesizers.

Love songs like "Rosie," "Taking Pictures of You," "Petulia," and "Eskimo Kiss" predominate on this collection. Some have great rhythmic drive, some are more vulnerable or confessional, and some, like "Time Above the Earth" have a fragile, ethereal quality that's hard to describe or classify. But not all are so romantic: "F*** the World Off," "Killing Me," and "Mr. Nice Guy" have a harder edge.

The first single, "Is It Me," is actually more formulaic than most of the other songs on the album, bearing a resemblance to Arctic Monkeys and other British groups. Had it been my choice, I would have led with "How'd You Like That" or "Runaway," both of which are catchy as all get out.

The first two Kooks albums, "Inside In / Inside Out" and "Konk," were well received by the press and the public, and "Junk of the Heart" is certain to continue the trend.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 5, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I was a bit dissapointed with Junk. While every band should mature and evolve with each record, it felt a bit forced on this one. For the most part, gone are the racous guitar riffs and rock songs; in are the strings, horns, synth, keyboards, and love songs. It works pretty well on some songs, but in general just makes some of the songs not feel like Kooks songs at all. Junk of the Heart(Happy), Rosie, and Eskimo Kiss are the most "Kooks sounding" songs on the record, and not coincidentally, are 3 of the strongest 4 songs on the album, the other being Mr. Nice Guy - which is a departure sonically, but is a bit edgier and the synth and piano really work well here. How'd you like that, F**K the world off, Run Away, Is it Me, and Petulia are all good songs that any real Kooks fan will end up liking after a few spins, but certainly are not some of the stronger songs the guys have written. Taking Pictures of You, Time Above the Earth, and Killing Me just do not sound like Kooks songs at all. Taking Pictures sounds like it could be a Maroon 5 song on top 40 radio. Time Above the earth has the potential to be a nice diddy if it were done with an acoustic guitar or straight piano, but the strings really seem forced and just add too many layers. Killing me is just a bad song and has a synth verse peice that makes is sound like Toto's "Africa". It just doesn't belong on the album and I'm not sure what Producer Tony Hoffer was thinking here. If you buy the album in either Europe or the Asia, it comes with 2 bonus tracks: Carried Away and The Saboteur. Carried Away belongs on the record proper and sounds more like a Kooks song than half the songs that made it on the record do. The Saboteur is a hard edge, piano/synth driven tune akin to No More Mr. Nice Guy. Really a great song and also would have been a nice addition to the record proper. All in all a decent album, but unless your a really big Kooks fan, you may want to just download the good songs I mentioned above and skip some of the filler. Hopefully they return to more of a guitar driven indie/classic rock sound for their 4'th album.
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on October 7, 2014
Format: MP3 MusicVerified Purchase
Big fan of their previous albums. Not so thrilled with this one. It feels a little weak and some of the songs seem underdeveloped.
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on February 16, 2015
Format: VinylVerified Purchase
Really good quality and value. None of the tracks skip or are scratched which is good.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 6, 2012
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
I did enjoy this newest record from the Kooks. It's got great songs and a great story... But I can't say it's my favorite of the Kooks albums.
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on August 19, 2014
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Have yet to be disappointed with this band.
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on December 30, 2014
Format: Audio CDVerified Purchase
Terrible compared to his first two albums.
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