fri 12/08/2022

Album: The Kooks - 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark | reviews, news & interviews

Album: The Kooks - 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark

Album: The Kooks - 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark

Back to the Eighties for the group's upbeat and playful sixth album

Bubble gum flavoured for the 2020s

From Brighton to Berlin with the Brit School alums, who formed 20 years ago – allegedly out shopping in Primark. Virgin signed them three months later. What started as “a joke” has endured through five albums – and here comes their sixth, 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark.

And how appropriate that this slice of Eighties retro should appear right now – just as we’re reprising many of the grimmer aspects of that decade, not least a recession and, possibly soon, a Thatcher 2.0 if Liz Truss cosplay fools the ever-gullible public.

It was also the decade of synthpop – electronica, disco, Eurodance – as the Casio VL-1 launched in 1979. At under $70, this first commercial digital synthesizer opened up a whole new range of possibilities for countless pop wannabees. In my very first publishing job, a new-minted music grad, I commissioned and published The Complete Synthesizer as gizmos advanced and the market exploded.

“Let’s Dance” the late David Bowie commanded us, on one of the decade's most successful albums. And of course, it was from Bowie’s 1971 song that The Kooks took their name. In between Hunky Dory and Let’s Dance came Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy, three powerful albums, influenced by so-called krautrock, that closed the decade and have stood the test of time.

Nothing here compares to that brilliance of course, though Bowie (obviously), along with Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones and the Police, was a key Kooks influence. “Sailing on a Dream” feels very Bowie-esque, the ska influence redolent of the latter’s Tonight. “Jesse James” is out of the Duran Duran playbook.

It’s an upbeat and playful album, traits which are sorely needed right now. There are some catchy singalong moments, but… Am I really bothered? No! Those elements of 1980s music which were genuinely interesting have survived. Who really wants to revisit the rest? It’s bubble gum flavoured for the 2020s with a few nice sax and guitar licks.

Liz Thomson's website

It's an upbeat and playful album, traits which are sorely needed right now

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Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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