“We’re having a good time honey, no need to apply no pressure. We’re just having a…(pause)” A what? Come on Luke, don’t keep us in suspense, you tease you. Ketamine-fuelled bisexual orgy? Cockfight? Ker-Plunk tournament? “…GOOD TIME.” Ah.
Kooksworld is a magical universe in which punk, hip-hop, acid house, shoegaze & various other great musical leaps forward never ‘appened. But pub rock, and Britpop – they definitely happened. It’s the early 70s, and all a geezer has to worry about is where his next pint of Double Diamond is coming from and making sure he doesn’t get too much grief from his latest dolly bird. It’s a good time all the time, soundtracked by real music played on real instruments, ideally enjoyed whilst having a bit of nookie on the back seat of a Ford Capri in the carpark of the local Berni Inn. Yes, Luke Pritchard may allude to Brexit on opening track ‘Kids’ (“The kids are not alright…good England thrown to the wolves, and the lunatics taking over”), but the rest of the album is all booze, birds and bollocks. Especially bollocks. Well-meaning and enthusiastic bollocks to be fair, so well-meaning and enthusiastic that I almost feel guilty giving it a hammering, but still bollocks.
Because for all its tunefulness – and there are some pleasant enough tunes here, and plenty of choruses that take up residence in your brain even after a single listen – Let’s Go Sunshine is a goldmine of bad lyrics. Admittedly you don’t put on a Kooks album expecting to be moved to tears or enlightened by radical new ideas, and if you do then you really need to have a good long think about what you’re doing with your life, but even by their own lamentable standards there are some crackers here. “Your love is such hardship, but work I’m pleased to do…I want you to be there when I die” sings Pritchard on the turgid pop-funk of ‘All the Time’. Because there’s nothing women like more than being told that they’re hard work, and then being invited to watch someone die. ‘Wonderwall’ tribute ‘Believe’ kicks off with “I got a window I’m trying to live inside/I got a lover and she’s kind of kind”. Maybe she’d be kinder if you weren’t living in a window. ‘Fractured & Dazed’, in many other ways the best thing here, contains the utterly baffling lyric “I’m a blessed man just to have touched your face/But then again, who are you to make me replace that?” Who indeed. And on the laughable ‘Initials for Gainsbourg’ Pritchard dons a black polo neck, lights up a Gitane and makes a complete coq of himself – “Jane is waiting for initials for Gainsbourg/Bonnie’s at the door, and Clyde’s in the back seat”. Of course he is Luke, of course he is.
Let’s Go Sunshine is at its best/worst (depending on your opinion of early 70s Rod Stewart) when Pritchard stops trying to be profound and just gives it the full flares & feathercut geezer treatment. “I don’t mean to be jealous/But my eyes have seen you with fellas” he sings on the ludicrous boogie-lite of ‘Chicken Bone’ – but it’s OK because “I don’t drink alone/I got a big fine mamma at home”. Luke, you’re 33 and you’re from Worthing. You don’t know any ‘big fine mammas’. And the jaunty, spectacularly irritating ‘Pamela’, all mockney vocal affectations, plumbs even deeper lyrical depths – “Lend your ears about my mate Pamela/So naughty but she loves her fella…Oh what an enigmatic woman, my gosh do some mothers ‘ave ‘em!” Cor blimey guvnor, them dolly birds eh! Can’t live with em, can’t live without ‘em. Pint of Red Barrel please squire, and a Babycham for the lady.
If the idea of restaging the 1974 Reading Festival in a Centerparcs sounds attractive to you, then you’ll love Let’s Go Sunshine. Me, I’m just amazed – and somewhat depressed – that, in 2018, such a record actually exists.
Let’s Go Sunshine is out now on Sony.