Following the Arctic Monkeys last week, it appears there's a large treasure trove of indie rock from the early 2000's, which brings us nicely to The Kooks and their 2006 debut Inside In/Inside Out.
This era of music brought around bunches of young lads influenced by the garage rock revival of the late nineties and infancy of the noughties, all singing in their regional accents. The north had the Arctic Monkeys, the south got The Kooks. Much like a lot of their contemporaries, The Kooks' debut album comes packed solid with freedom of expression, backed by a brilliant sound.
That light request on Seaside that opens the record, "Do you want to go the seaside?", is something that immediately sums up people's childhoods growing up in Britain. The song's repeated questioning characterises Luke Pritchard's timid vocal nicely; it's a nervous little introduction to one of the most-loved bands of the British indie scene. As a song, it's raw and properly emotional, with the band leaning on acoustic guitars more than electric ones over the course of the record. This lighter opening contrasts the Arctic Monkeys' debut nicely, especially for two albums that were released on the same day. The likes of Sofa Song fuses this acoustic sound with some great drums and the odd electric riff to make something that these days would be considered classic indie music and a bit of a nod to The Strokes' early work with Pritchard's vocal sounding a lot like Julian Casablancas.
Harsh riffs on the likes of Eddie's Gun and You Don't Love Me are nods to other Sheffield lads Milburn, also from the same time period, with them drawing comparisons to me at least with one of their better known songs Send In The Boys. Both tracks have got some great pace to them, bringing some instinctive twisting from anyone on the dancefloor when this song plays. In a similar vein to their contemporaries, even the harsher songs present, especially You Don't Love Me offer some brilliant rawness that contrasts the manufactured pop that would've filled the charts at this time.
As well as some brilliant romps of album tracks, it's certainly difficult to ignore the fact that Inside In/Inside Out spawned two of the band's biggest hits, Naive and She Moves In Her Own Way. The former is a rocking swagger through Pritchard's attempts to get a girl with that iconic riff forming a formidable backbone for the rest of the song to built upon. Its refrain is a nice insight into the speaker's mind before returning to the dialogue with the girl on the verse. This two-sided structure certainly makes this song cleverer than the initial riff would suggest, making it one of The Kooks' best for good reason. The latter, She Moves In Her Own Way, is something a bit lighter, more comparable to Seaside, with an early Beatles-like sound to it and a return to a more innocent and honest-sounding vocal. It's one of those tracks where there's nothing offensive about it or to pick fault in, especially given the accessible sound.
The album's back-end features the brilliant Time Awaits which after a slow start soon morphs into a properly indie ska track, which works well as a great combination especially after several listens. The song goes through a few different phases before going into the typical indie sound that we've come to know the band well for over the course of the record. It's easy to draw comparisons to the Arctic Monkeys' own five minute epic A Certain Romance with the breakneck speed of the song's latter half, but that's just a simple comparison and disregards the two tracks' completely different styles. Got No Love shows that even on a debut album, a band can sound all grown-up. This particular track slows everything down to a strolling pace with a dreamy guitar riff and minimal and heavy drums for something similar to an early Elbow record, and to be honest, it's easy to hear the influence of Guy Garvey and co. on this particular track. It's utterly fantastic and has to be one of the album's standouts, as well as finishing it off in a slow and relaxed way.
Much like other albums from the early noughties, Inside In/Inside Out is another that'll sit well with the generation that it's designed to serve - teenagers. Such records have seen a new lease of life in recent years as people continuously grow up and it means that Inside In/Inside Out will never get old, which is brilliant when you consider that it's an absolute masterpiece.
If you want to pick up a copy, I'll leave an Amazon link here: https://amzn.to/3jMzt7k
Or, if you'd prefer, here's a Spotify link:
More musical magnificence to come next week!
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