Review Summary: Anyone who even remotely digs the Kings of Leon should stock their ipods with this gem.
Four albums in and the Kings of Leon have established themselves as one of the top rock acts in the world. Kings of rock n’ roll, it would seem. Certainly, the Followill brothers (and one cousin) have exploded out of their strict Pentecostal upbringing, in which they spent their childhood on the road with their travelling preacher of a father. Kept under a tight watch, the boys were even forbidden from listening to non-Christian music. Surprising, when you consider their first couple of albums, Youth and Young Manhood
and Aha Shake Heartbreak
, are essentially the horny, manic ramblings of a band of alcoholic hooligans. True southern-fried rock. It is as though the Kings fired off all the repressed urges of their adolescent years through these albums, and subsequently, the sizzling, raw style of their efforts proved enough to catch the attention of both Bob Dylan and U2. Soon after, the Kings found themselves playing their first stadium gigs.
The band’s success has never lost steam and their latest album, Only by the Night
, features a matured quartet of men rather than boys. Perhaps their brief stint touring with a much older U2 had some influence on their music, as the guys have mellowed quite a bit. Leaving behind most of the gristle from their earlier sound and moving into a slower, more melodic style, the Kings have been catapulted into mainstream success with mega hits such as “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody”. While the former’s lyrics suggest that lead singer Anthony Followill hasn’t completely lost his sexual raucousness, the rest of the band has certainly crystallized their once rough and dirty style. With tight, refined guitar work and spacious drumbeats, Only by the Night
reflects the musical progression of a highly talented and soulful band. The album’s final track, “Cold Desert” is perhaps the epitome of this progression, featuring Anthony’s most emotional vocals yet, and one phrase in particular - “Jesus don’t love me, no one ever carried my load / I’m too young to feel this old” - really showcases the singer’s maturity as both a musician and a man.
For the most part, fans of the band will love the Kings of Leon’s continuing musical growth and diversity found in Only by the Night
. Although stubborn folks looking for the action packed rock ‘n roll of Youth and Young Manhood
and Aha Shake Heartbreak
may find themselves disappointed, their quarrels will mostly fall upon deaf ears. While not as classic as its predecessor, Because of the Times
, Only by the Night
still reflects a sizeable step forward for the band. Indeed, the Kings have left behind their youth and are now in a full scale exploration of their musical ability as adults.