The Kooks are a English alternative band known for making upbeat, quirky songs that you can’t get out of your head. However, the same can be said for The Wombats, Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand, and many other artists that fit into the same niche genre. In many ways, the Kooks are like a more toned-down cousin of The Wombats without as much notoriety.
Their fifth album, “Let’s Go Sunshine”, is pleasant to listen to the first time, but it’s truly in the second listen-through that the album shines. “Intro” opens the album in a short 20 seconds that sets the mood for the album — a bittersweet celebration of the highs and lows of a relationship. The theme is pushed further by fun, more pop-sounding songs like “Kids” and “All The Time,” which capture the mood of mindless yet intense infatuation with someone new. The young, upbeat feeling of “All The Time” is shown in the lyrics “I want you, you, just don’t ask why / I want you, you, all the time.” In “Kids,” the mood captured is slightly more egocentric but still light-hearted with the lines “I’m not trying to be what you want me to be / I’m not your friend, I’m your queen.” There isn’t much of a deeper meaning but the words are still relatable. Rather than letting the album continue with the highs of these two songs, “Let’s Go Sunshine” takes a slightly darker turn as it progresses, leading to some of its strongest songs.
The track “Believe” marks the start of the transition into darker times with a melancholy guitar akin to that of The Cure. This is a standout track because it captures something that is somewhat commonplace nowadays but not always faithfully described in a song — the relationship that never happened or happened at the wrong time. With lyrics like “Even though I didn’t love you / You made me believe,” the song takes an emo turn while still maintaining the signature alternative/pop sound of The Kooks. The true talent of The Kooks is evident in making a song about breaking up into a catchy tune that isn’t too full of itself. Rather than having the lyrics be over the top, the song maintains an air of honesty in recognizing the lack of depth in emotions felt for the ex-lover but the affection that was still felt nonetheless.
On the heels of “Believe” is “Fractured and Dazed,” another look into the aftermath of a breakup and, more specifically, the moment when someone realizes just how many things were wrong with the relationship to begin with. The song looks down on an ex-lover while repeating “I’ll never give your love away” in a contradictory stream of lyrics that mimics the love/hate felt towards a new ex.
“Chicken Bone” is the quirkiest song off of the album and reflects the fun of “Fat-Bottomed Girls” by Queen. The title of the song comes from the lyric “I got a big fat mama at home / She calls me chicken bone,” and according to the lead singer, it means he’s dating a slightly bigger girl who calls him skinny by nicknaming him “Chicken Bone.” Not exactly alternative anthem material, but a catchy song nonetheless.
“Initials for Gainsbourg” dips back into the mindset of a teenager with lyrics like “We don’t know where we’re going / But we got some money saved.” Compared to the bittersweet nature of “Believe” and eccentricity of “Chicken Bone,” “Initials for Gainsbourg” has an airy, dream-like quality to it further backed by swelling harmonies. The remaining songs of the album get lost in the daze of either failing to stand out from one another or simply not being particularly memorable.
Overall, the album is just a little too long with 15 tracks that could have been easily narrowed down to just 10 tracks. The less memorable tracks are not bad, but they just don’t hit with the same momentum as others like “Believe”, “Chicken Bone”, and “Initials for Gainsbourg.” “Let’s Go Sunshine” isn’t a remarkable or iconic album, but it’s a decent listen with interesting vocals and relatable content.
Album Review By: Victoria Sharp