The Kooks recently unveiled a new song ‘Down’ which is due for release alongside three brand new tracks on 20th April. This is the first new material to come from the band since 2011’s ‘Junk of the Heart’. ‘Down’ has been described by the group as a mission statement for their forthcoming fourth album and it is a major departure from the more familiar sound of earlier releases. This time round they have worked very closely with hip-hop artist Inflo, who is credited as both co-writer and co-producer on ‘Down’.
On first listen I have to admit I honestly thought this song might have been a joke. To my ears Pritchard’s already distinctive vocal sounds like a caricature of itself. The surprise change of sound, from crisp indie pop to a more sample-led hip-hop inspired production is jarring. It seems to be a bit on the cluttered side: there are several layers of vocals and jangly guitars competing on top of what sounds like an old skool hip-hop break but may well be their drummer sampled and layered with percussion. After repeated listens The Kooks clear ear for melody wins out and I find myself warming to the track.
It seems The Kooks are taking a bit of a gamble by trying an approach which may alienate a lot of their core fan base. You have to respect them for trying something new and following their muse but for a lead single this just seems kind of messy. Here’s hoping they’ve got better material hidden up their sleeves and this is just a little teaser to break people into their new sound.