Arts

Album reviews: Kooks' compilation comfortably familiar –which is exactly what you want

The Kooks' The Best Of... So Far offers up a heavy dose of recent nostalgia for both devoted and fair-weather fans

The Kooks

The Best Of... So Far

THERE comes a time in every artist's career when a compilation album is inevitable. For The Kooks, this collection seems to have come at a time when indie isn't quite as fun and, well, Kooks-y as it was back in the mid to late noughties, and it offers up a heavy dose of recent nostalgia for both devoted and fair-weather fans of the British rockers. She Moves In Her Own Way, Naive, Shine On, You Don't Love Me, Ooh La – all the greats are there, injecting some much-needed pop-rock summer sunshine into this, quite frankly, repetitive, overly-produced musical landscape of the moment. A welcome addition comes from funky lesser-known single Down, a real foot-tapper, while bright and cheerful comeback single Be Who You Are sounds like it's fresh out of 2006. Rounding off things nicely is new track Broken Vow – anthemic, conclusive and somehow comfortably familiar, which is exactly what you want from the Brighton foursome.

8/10

Lucy Mapstone

Erasure

World Be Gone

JUST A Little Love is earnest, overblown, unabashedly pop... basically everything Erasure fans have always loved about them. If you are in that number you will not be too disappointed with their 17th studio album, which arrives shortly after Andy Bell and Vince Clarke marked 30 years together. With such longevity it is hard to be too critical of the duo, though it has to be said that after the driving synthpop of opener and lead single Love You To The Sky, things all become a little tired here - not least lyrically (case in point being the horrendously cliched lyric "Be careful what you wish for/We could be the very best/put me to the test/Think about it baby"). That's not to say there are not moments to enjoy - the anthemic, almost-gospel Sweet Summer Loving and Lousy Sum Of Nothing being the main highlights - and all in all it's a pretty harmless affair that will be welcomed enthusiastically by Erasure heads.

5/10

Stephen Jones

Linkin Park

One More Light

LINKIN Park's genre-bending One More Light is pop – no doubt about it – a sound they have dabbled with but have never committed themselves to so wholeheartedly. They have not lost their distinctive sound – it is there, just in the background. Do not expect anything like early hits Papercut and Crawling here. But this is a marvellously gutsy move from an established band at this stage in their career. Unyielding old-school nu-metal fans might turn their noses up at the delicate, nuanced ease of One More Light, but the group cares little about those with that mindset. Sorry For Now is chart-friendly but far weightier than most tracks in the current top 40. Lead single Heavy, along with Halfway Right and Nobody Can Save Me, are highlights. Good Goodbye with Pusha T and Stormzy harks back to Linkin Park's Collision Course era.

6/10

Lucy Mapstone

Faith Evans And The Notorious B.I.G

The King & I

THE Notorious B.I.G. and Faith Evans enjoyed one of the most exciting, eventful relationships in hip hop history – but you would not have guessed it from The King & I.

The album's 25 tracks mostly merge into one, only broken up by the at times cringeworthy interludes. Evans still has a killer voice, and Biggie is still a great storyteller – even on the verses we have heard before – but the album first underwhelms and then exhausts.

Putting aside how weird it feels as a listener to hear a sex song between Faith and her 20-years deceased former husband (Can't Get Enough), the throwback-style production on that song and most others quickly feels tired. Saving graces come from Snoop Dogg, Styles P and Busta Rhymes but, overall, rather than a moving testament to a former lover this feels overshot and pseudo-nostalgic.

4/10

Kameron Virk

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