The Kooks – 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark Review

If a tree falls and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? That question can be interpreted by the work of The Kooks here. If nobody is there to listen to 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark, did it happen? What if they are just echoes in the dark. It’s hard to figure out who is listening and what they are listening to if it’s dark. Maybe that is the point of this latest record from trendsetting indie rockers The Kooks, whose survival in pop culture is in part thanks to Naïve. Are audiences naïve enough to give them the time of day ten years on with ten more tracks? Possibly so. Hopefully.

Still, The Kooks’ growth and inevitable maturity as artists moving on from their image of indie darlings make for an interesting, delicate new release. 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark has a strong enough opener, Connection. Solid album work appears to be the new reach of The Kooks, whose strongest works here are collaborative pieces. Beautiful World with Milky Chance feels like the highlight of the album, an upbeat piece that has delightful lyrics stringing it all together. 25 is another standout, a late-album piece that has a good drum beat that benefits a groovy bassline that feels quite unlike anything The Kooks have tried to follow before. Closer may be another high point of the album, a nice little piece that feels as upbeat and appropriate for The Kooks as any of their best works.

At its best, 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark is a nice hodgepodge of easy listening. Lamentable tracks focus on the implications of love and broad strokes of variable, friendly meanings. There are no specific commentaries, no tracks that feel too deep or heavy-hitting, but The Kooks have never hit hard or heavy. They are effective when reducing their works to pop riffs and indie vibes, and they do that well and consistently here. Better than Inside In / Inside Out at times. A stronger album and concept on the whole, with far more consistency than the debut The Kooks will always be tied to, no matter how hard they try. Even then, some relatively forgettable work on Jesse James and Modern Days do leave the band in the dark a little more than usual.

Still, the dark is the best place to go to sleep. What better than ten tracks that’ll help sleep come quicker? A mixed bag of tracks. They join the ranks of Two Door Cinema Club and Franz Ferdinand. Not a bad place to be. They feel tarred by that image, though. Often trying to break out but never quite knowing how. 10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark feels like a step in the right direction. But to chip away at an oversaturated genre like this and expect different results is a tad tiring for a band whose best work was contained to their glory days of the late-2000s. Even The Hoosiers packed that in. There is some warm sense and hope that The Kooks will continue on, rattling out solid indie tracks that, while aren’t a shade on Naïve or She Moves in Her Own Way, are better albums than their debut.

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