Listen is a step back for The Kooks. They had stated that with this new record, they were “tearing up the rulebook” for Brit rock/pop, but after hearing the album, it seems more like that “rulebook” was what held together the Kooks’ sound together for their first three records, and what made Inside In/Inside Out and Junk of the Heart the hit records that they were. Now on their fourth record, Listen is a bit too “inventive” for what the Kooks can handle.
The classic Kooks elements are still present, unmistakable vocals, drums, guitar patterns, but the new elements take away from their heart-warming, recognizable Kooks sound. If I could hand select about 4 or 5 songs, it could have been better as an EP, with the first track, “Around Town”, being really amazing, and then just kinda downhill from there. With some songs sounding like cheap Phoenix knockoffs, and others with lyrics that seem to have no meaning or complexity in their thought process at all, at a time where it seemed like it would have been perfect for The Kooks to come back, they just didn’t deliver.