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My ears have had the pleasure of knowing The Kooks for a good five years now. They’re one of those bands that if you listen to them closely enough, you are consistently astounded with just how damn talented they are (and if you ever have the chance to see them live – do it). There’s a richness and clarity to the music that has its roots in Britpop, but isn’t afraid to borrow and incorporate sounds from all across the board.

Their latest studio album, Listen, dropped earlier this month. This time the boys have experimented with a lot of choral stuff with a healthy dollop of disco and Latin influences. The album seems to be split roughly into thirds, moving loosely from choral to pop-rock to Latin-disco, with the sad songs (#4, #8) signaling the switch.

For this review, I’ve listed each of the tracks below and tried to describe the highlights in under 10 words.

  1. Around Town: Huge choral intro, busy, constant energy, fun bridge
  2. Forgive & Forget: Driving beat, sway & clap, gospel meets pop
  3. Westside: Simple guitar riffs (Classic Kooks sound) meets synthy disco mix
  4. See Me Now: Piano led, gorgeous heartbreaker for a lost parent
  5. It Was London: Fast, fun, so many guitar layers
  6. Bad Habit: The rock ‘n’ roll track, bold and unapologetic
  7. Down: Vocal creativity, dance! Crowd participates in the bridge.
  8. Dreams: Upbeat yet mournful, Latin strings, quavering synth
  9. Are We Electric: Falsetto chorus, synth ‘n’ disco are the backbone.
  10. Sunrise: Transportation to a summer party in South American. Falsetto chorus #2
  11. Sweet Emotion: Snappy, jazzy love-song closer, lingering outro on the keys.

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