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Kings Of Leon – [Album]

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Sunday, 05 December 2010

It might sound unwarranted or unfair given the staggering amount of attention that the band has received since “Sex On Fire” blew up two years ago, but who really likes Kings Of Leon? I mean seriously – this is a band that got its' start churning out half-baked and partially-lobotomized, cast-off grunge-isms (remember “Molly's Chambers” or any of Youth And Young Manhood in general?) only to be reborn in 2008 as a bunch of wildly overwrought, country-fried indie rockers and, rather than getting pounded on the nose with a critical sledgehammer, they were actually rewarded for the effort. The “why?” behind how Kings Of Leon became a going concern is anyone's guess, but the kudos obviously strengthened the band's resolve to keep going because they've returned with the even more plaintive and overwrought Come Around Sundown – an album that will thrill fans who liked Only By The Night, but keep those who didn't get the appeal two years ago mystified.

As incredible as Kings On Leon's success might be to some listeners, even they will have to admit that the band has worked some of the knicks and dings out of their “mature sound” in the two years lapsed between releases. Beginning with “The End,” Come Around Sundown rolls out as smooth and warm as satin as guitarist Matthew Followill lays a foundation of angular textural down for brother/singer Caleb Followill to walk upon and wax romantic contrivances over. The beginning is dim and dramatic (it's likely also the song that the band's current live sets open with) and will find even the band's harshest detractors gravitating in to see what develops because it is such a slow start, but what they won't know yet is that in this beginning lies the whole record; after “The End,” Kings Of Leon continue along wearing hearts that no listener actually gets the impression the band has on their collective sleeve, and songs like “Radioactive,” “No Money” and “Back Down South” continue plugging the same songwriting cliches. That's all well and good and, presumably, the calculated nature of the album's design will appeal to those same fans that were hooked by Only By The Night (who doesn't think the same trick will work twice?), but it's hard not to feel like Come Around Sundown wasn't simply released as a tiding over measure to keep those fans already won locked in and not allow their attention to be diverted. The album is alright (or, at least, fans of Only By The Night will think it is), but there isn't really anything incredible about it and there is no significant growth in any particular direction exhibited here, so those who didn't understand how Only By The Night took off will continue to be mystified by any success that Come Around Sundown might enjoy.

Artist:

www.kingsofleon.com/
www.myspace.com/kingsofleon

Album:
Come Around Sundown is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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Kings Of Leon – [Album]

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Monday, 22 September 2008

Somehow, in listening to Kings Of Leon’s new album, two images start to surface. First, the swirling synths and majestically watery, electronic production of the record conjure a portrait of a mad Captain Ahab spinning the wheel of his ship at random intervals so that the course charted doubles back regularly on itself to the point of seeming totally rudderless. The second is of a band trying desperately to stretch out stylistically and not minding in the slightest if they confound their audience in the process (some would say it’s not the first time that KOL has done this). As with the Rorschach test inkblot that graces the front cover of the album, listeners can choose which image suits best, but both are marked by the confusion that anyone would feel were they to find themselves fumbling around in the dark.

Through the duration of Only By The Night’s runtime, listeners keep hoping that the band will find the switch that will shed some much-needed light on what they’re getting at. From the sonorous squalls that open “Closer,” Kings Of Leon sets its’ tone of chilly, dank and desperate disorientation that gives the impression that the band is as confused regarding the coordinates of their final destination as those listeners that are trying to follow along. In the first track alone, the group seems to run into the walls of their own electronic beats and recoil in order to spiral off in another direction no less than five times. If you didn’t pick up on that, there’s also an edge of desperation in singer Caleb Followill’s voice as he calls out of the dense but desolate sonics hoping to be found.

That combination of confusion and isolation is the potent drive between every track—no matter how sonically different they might be—on Only By The Night. That is not to say that the tenor of the record is tentative though, songs like “I Want You,” “Crawl,” “Somebody” and “17” all strut confidently into oblivion, it’s just difficult to pick out where the band is heading—particularly when they derail any sort of momentum they might build with expansive sonics like those found in “Sex On Fire,” “Motion” and “Be Somebody.” The contrast between the vibes and the soft, weak and generally poor caliber of the songwriting gives the impression that Kings Of Leon either started out working on a different album or perhaps even two at once but circumstances changed along the way thus leaving this muddled combination of high tech production and half-formed gobbledygook as the only thing to put out. It’s unfortunate that at no point does the band give listeners a concrete clue as to what prompted Only By The Night.

By the same token, that confusion is the redeeming feature of the record. While on one hand Only By The Night is an incredibly frustrating record, as “Cold Desert” fades, no conclusions can be drawn and the record seems unfinished as a result. That could mean that Kings Of Leon didn’t actually reach their intended destination on Only By The Night when the clock ran out. That is the saving grace for this record: with no recognizable conclusion, Kings Of Leon will be free to shift gears again on their next release that might continue with some of the threads developed here intact, but in a more intelligible form. In that way, Only By The Night ends a very exciting record by accident rather than design; here’s hoping this mess wasn’t made on purpose.

Artist:
www.kingsofleon.com
www.myspace.com/kingsofleon

Download:
"Crawl" from Only By The Night – [mp3]
"Sex On Fire" from Only By The Night – [mp3]

Album:
Kings of Leon – Only By The Night is out now. Buy it on Amazon.

 

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