Sunday, July 13, 2008

“Love It All” / The Kooks

You have to love a band that names its sophomore album after Konk, the recording studio Ray Davies and the Kinks set up in North London. Granted, these kids were just paying customers in the studio – Ray didn’t produce the album or anything – but it’s nice to see that they’re properly appreciative of the Kink heritage.

Not unusually for a second album, Konk shows the Kooks going for a “fuller” sound – which just means that now they’ve got enough money, they’re not stuck with bare-bones garage-band arrangements. Personally I liked the uncluttered bounciness of their earlier songs like “You Don’t Love Me” and “She Moves In Her Own Way.”

Luckily they’ve hung onto that buoyant tone. “Love It All” shuffles along with a reggae-tinged rhythm that harks back to the Police, only with a little more jangly guitar. Sure, Luke Pritchard’s yelping Cockney-inflected vocals have adolescent anxiety all over them, but the lyrics connect the two: “See I've got this woman here / She loves me all the time / No need for excuses / No pressures in my mind.” This is unfamiliar territory for him, maybe (in verse two he declares “My heart was living down / And I’ve been pushed over the line”), but he’s just beginning to believe in her gospel.

His friends help out with lush cascading harmonies in the chorus, repeating “She said: love it all, love it all, love it all” over and over. (Great for concert singalongs, too, I’ll bet.) I love how rapidly they flip off those “love it all’s,” like a determined little mantra. Pritchard repeats it solo at the end, as if he’s still trying to convince himself – like Dorothy repeating “There’s no place like home” at the end of The Wizard of Oz.

It’s upbeat, yes, but not with cheap optimism – it feels to me like he’s fending off an undertow of disillusion and battered hopes the whole time. It’s one thing to do a simple song, quite another thing to make it satisfying. Having a bigger budget doesn’t do that for you; working in a legendary studio doesn’t do it either. But knowing who your musical forbears are, and honoring them -- that’s the ticket.

Love It All sample


Julie said...

I think I'll have to check these guys out. I'm enjoying Vampire Weekend, thanks for the heads up, Holly.

Holly A Hughes said...

My pleasure! Glad you're enjoying them -- let me know what you think of the Kooks once you've taken a listen.