Album: The Kooks, Konk (Virgin)

4.00

The Kooks may well be arrogant, humourless and easily dislikeable on any number of levels, as some say; but when was that ever a hindrance to success in rock'n'roll? The most important thing is that, when called upon to walk the walk as well as they talk the talk, they deliver the goods. Which is what they've done with Konk, named after Ray Davies's studio, where it was recorded.

Though not quite the classic-strewn masterpiece trumpeted by singer Luke Pritchard, there are enough potential hits here to keep singles charts occupied for the rest of the year, starting with opener "See the Sun", a jangly folk-rocker featuring a lead guitar line of great nervous energy. The current single "Always Where I Need To Be" is crafted with a similarly skillful grasp of pop classicism, and listening to "Love It All" (imagine The Small Faces' soulful power-pop with an animated Neil Young on lead guitar) it occurs to me that The Kooks have effectively managed to transform the classic Big Star sound into a more commercial proposition – no mean feat, a quarter of a century after it was devised.

Ironically, the main attraction in The Kooks' sound is not Pritchard – whose vocals on tracks like "Love It All" and "Do You Wanna" are as personably effusive as required, but little more – but lead guitarist Hugh Harris, as inventive in his own way as Johnny Marr or Bernard Butler, whether he's adopting a Little Beaver-ish tone to lighten the otherwise insufferably ponderous "Gap", or constructing the kind of methodical but imaginative guitar interplay that recalls Television's Lloyd and Verlaine for "Do You Wanna", sculpting his parts from an armoury of juddering tremors and abstract throbs.

An Eighties pop-metal sheen illuminates "Stormy Weather", while the irritatingly chipper "Sway", with its jaunty percussion and ringing acoustic guitars, acquires an unexpected air of misgiving through the judicious addition of melancholy mellotron. A little variety is achieved via "One Last Time", a rough-hewn reggae shuffle with harmonies of pleasing rusticity.

If the album had ended there, it may have merited that elusive fifth star. But sadly, The Kooks take it upon themselves to advertise their thin skin with the limply climactic "Trick of Time", taking ineffectual pot-shots at some nameless detractor, an oddly graceless and paranoid – and ungrateful – plaint from a young band who sold more than two million copies of their debut album. Still, that's but a fleabite of annoyance compared to the standards struck here.

Pick of the album: 'See the Sun', 'Do You Wanna', 'Love It All', 'Stormy Weather'

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
    'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

    Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

    Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
    Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

    Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

    New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

    Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Rebranding Christmas: More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence

    Rebranding Christmas

    More public bodies are refusing to give the festival its name for fear of causing offence. They are missing the point, and we all need to grow up
    A Greek island - yours for the price of a London flat

    A sun-kissed island - yours for the price of a London flat

    Cash-strapped Greeks are selling off their slices of paradise
    Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

    Pogues could enjoy fairytale Christmas No 1 thanks to digital streaming

    New system means that evergreen songs could top the festive charts
    Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence

    Prince of Wales: Gruff Rhys

    He is a musician of wondrous oddity. He is on a perpetual quest to seek the lost tribes of the Welsh diaspora. Just don't ask Gruff Rhys if he's a national treasure...