Thursday, April 10, 2008
Follow-ups are a bitch.
There is this big music-biz/industry cliche that says bands always falter on their second album. This is not the first time I've written about this, and I'm sure it won't be the last. The truth is, most bands have their wholes lives to work on the "first" album. Then the success comes. The truck-loads of money. The contract that says, "do it again in six months or less."
Yikes. Talk about pressure, right?
Some bands emerge onto the scene with fantastic, amazingly good first records...only to be killed by "sophomore-album-blues." I'm looking directly at you Jacob Dylan (seriously, what the hell happened to The Wallflowers?). Anyway, I'd like to say that The Kooks have leaped over the terrible hurtle that is the second album...but they didn't. They almost did, but no quite.
KONK is a very good record, but it's nowhere near as good as INSIDE IN/INSIDE OUT. That record came out of nowhere, jam-packed with singles like a cool English breeze. KONK couldn't really best that record, not even if it was perfection because the surprise is gone. "The Kooks? Oh yeah, I know about them..." This is one of those records that, if you're already a fan--you will like it. But, if you missed INSIDE IN/INSIDE OUT you might wonder what all the fuss is about while listening to KONK.
Sure, there are hooks and head bobbing...but nowhere near the quantity as before. What's good: The Monkeys/Kinks-ish "Mr. Maker" and the "Do you think I'm Sexy"-like "Do You Wanna?" The jangly guitars are back and so is the syrupy puppy-love poetry. Maybe I'm just getting too old...but I was really digging "Shine On" until the line at the very end: "About your hair/ You needn't care/You look beautiful all of the time." Now I'm sorry, but that's some shit I used to write in the margin of spiral notebooks...in High School. That's not just weak-sauce, that's down right embarrassing. But chicks will no doubt swoon over it (just like in High School). And I guess that's alright, but this dude ain't buying it.
Anyway, there is one really amazing track near the end, "One Last Time." It's a short Shins-type bit of melancholy Indie-Rock. Also the last track "Tick of Time" reminded me of Beatles outtakes during the LET IT BE or WHITE ALBUM sessions (tambourines, acoustic guitars and giggles). And pretty much anytime anything reminds me of the Fab Four...it's a good thing. The lead single, "Always Where I Need to Be" is nothing to sneeze at but at the same time nothing to write home about (how do ya like that? Not one but 2 cliches in one sentence! Damn, why am I not a Nobel-prize winner again?). That's kinda how I'm sum up KONK as a whole...not great, but serviceable.
Jason gives KONK a "B-"
Note: This doesn't come out until next week, and when it does it's supposed to come with a second bonus-disc (with 7 additional new songs) that I was unable to..."preview" for free.