2017 offered its fair share of comebacks – LCD Soundsystem, The Killers, Lorde and well, The Kooks. In a year that many of us want to forget, 2017 brought back the memories – on the back of the predictable release of a ‘Best Of..’ compilation, The Kooks announced a supporting tour – (*cue the sighs and shaking heads*). Yes, it is easy enough to dismiss their return as a money-making motive, however, The Best Of…So Far recalls the reasons why The Kooks became indie’s dandy darlings. With tracks taken from the jangling jaunt that is their first offering, 2006’s Inside In/Inside Out to excerpts from 2014’s ska-infused Listen, the collection also establishes why the quartet has not fallen from grace entirely, à la The Pigeon Detectives and Kaiser Chiefs, who were both considered to be their contemporaries during indie’s late noughties honeymoon period. Their last three albums did not scratch the surface of success that came with their twice platinum-selling predecessor, albeit they offered some of the band’s best work; take Forgive & Forget, a fusion of funk and frivolity that withholds even a glimpse of the messy hair, messy riff alt-rock that The Kooks once upheld.
With all chutzpah and charisma that a frontman should possess, Luke Pritchard took the 7500 strong legion of fans on a trip down memory lane, stopping at each subsequent album and performing all the hits and hidden gems. Opening duo Eddie’s Gun & Sofa Song sent a rush of tumultuous excitement through the crowd – proving that the beloved bangers – and then some – that came of the debut still remain to be sovereign. Bouncing through a behemoth of a set, the unanimously hysterical reaction to She Moves In Her Own Way and Matchbox unintentionally reinforced the fact that The Kooks were a noughties firework band – they spurted to the top before exploding into something significant. Inevitably, the spectacle that was the fireworks display of success had to fizzle out at some point.
Latest release Be Who You Are stopped the nostalgia wave from flowing as it took the term ‘old school’ around the bend and back – a dip into the void of return-to-form, perhaps; the track is drenched with clatter and continuous ‘da-da-da-da’s, – ultimately the two characteristics that previously hastened their music out to the masses.
Although The Kooks won’t be able to incite another indie rock renaissance, they have done just about enough to keep the genre somewhat alive, reigning the thousands back in, one ‘da-da-da-da’ at a time.
Words – Sophie Williams