January 23rd, 2006, out of Konk Studio in London, The Kooks released their first studio album to the world following a tour opening for The Thrills. Oddly enough for the Kooks, they decided to release their debut on the same day Arctic Monkeys took the world by storm with their angsty post-punk debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not. Looking back now with the long-lasting impact that record made, you can’t be too surprised that media attention at the time was utterly focused on the Arctic Monkeys. Just was the case with the debut of Sheffield’s finest indie rockers, time was on the side of the Kooks. 17 years later Inside In/Inside Out still goes so hard. The debut by the Kooks is as timeless as any of 2006’s great indie records from Belle and Sebastian to TV on the Radio, to of course, Arctic Monkeys. Front man Luke Pritchard from the Kooks even thanked the Arctic Monkeys for shielding them from so much press scrutiny and allowing them to creep in behind everyone's back according to NME.
Timeless as any, a handful of songs stick out more than others although this would not be an album I would categorize with a whole lot of “filler.” Most indieheads would know Naive and She Moves in Her Own Way within a couple seconds but this is a record worth giving a full spin every now and again. Aside from the hits, it’s the deep cuts that really stick out. It can be really cheesy when a band belts out their name in their lyrics (EVERYBODY WANG CHUNG TONIGHT, everybody wang chung tonight), but that’s not the case with the Kooks on Matchbox. Here the group crafted an up-tempo, sing-along style chorus about being young and free, seamlessly slipping the band name in. What’s not to like about that? Time Awaits boasts the finest level of musicianship on the record from an almost country-esque intro to a guitar driven and mesmerizing outro.
Inside In/Inside Out aside from being a plethora of hard-hitting indie rock, has plenty of delicacy to it with pretty tracks like Got No Love, Seaside and oddly enough, the prettiest song of the bunch being Jackie Big Tits. Beautifully crafted guitar work made Got No Love the perfect track to close out the colorful and impactful LP. Pritchard has a true gift in his vocal abilities with being able to sing powerful post-punk inspired tracks like Eddie's Gun, yet really being able to nail those soft and delicate songs. Again, the poetic Seaside really comes to mind.
With clever and tongue-in-cheek lyrics (I tried to love her back, and then I shrunk back into my wrap), to subtly skillful guitar work atop unique and non-repeating song styles, 17 years later and the debut by the Kooks holds its own. Fans of the group were met with a whole bunch of great songs since 2006, Be Who You Are, Bad Habit, Always Where I Need to Be, Sweet Emotion, but as is the case with a lot of bands, it just doesn’t get much better than the debut.