Kings of Leon
Only By The Night


2.0
poor

Review

by Guy Smiley USER (12 Reviews)
December 24th, 2009 | 65 replies | 3,983 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Kings of Leon “mature” on their fourth full-length, deciding to ape U2 rather than The Strokes this time around. (3.5/10)

7 of 9 thought this review was well written

I’ll be honest, I actually used to dig Kings of Leon a few years back. While the smarmy, arty-farty American music reviewers were smashing the Followill brothers for their “Southern Strokes” shtick on Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak, I always had thought that these four sex-craved dummies were charming. They were like your screw-up older cousin; sure they weren’t doing the “right” thing (i.e. recycling a tired act that has been done better countless times before), but you couldn’t help but love them for their earnesty and unabashed demeanor. When they sang about how “Molly’s chambers gonna change your mind”, they meant exactly what you thought they meant, and I’ll be damned if “The Bucket” isn’t one of the best songs of the decade, even if it was the peak of the Kings’ Strokes-hacking. Maybe I should be ashamed of this after listening to the disaster that is Only by the Night, but I thought how it was nice how [lead singer] Caleb Followill wasn’t afraid (was dumb enough?) to name a song “Pistol of Fire”, and get by off of his band’s raucous energy and catchy-enough, if simplistic, hooks.

Well, maybe it’s just because of the times (eh??), but Kings of Leon aren’t too loveable anymore. Now they’re one of those fancy, Grammy-nominated bands you’ll see on VH1 at 6 AM every morning, squeezed in between Katy Perry and Black Eyed Peas. For whatever reason, the music media machine decided that these four had mainstream rock appeal, and it seems so far that they’re right. Your mom has probably asked you about that band “that sings that Fire Sex song” at some point, and your younger sister probably feels a certain sense of entitlement for this band with their crossover effort. The question now becomes, how could a band that wrote as obnoxious (in the good, punk, way) a song as “Four Kicks” suddenly be pushed forward alongside Nickelback, 3 Doors Down, and the like as the top “rock” bands in the country?

On Only by the Night, Kings of Leon do this by changing their style up in the most predictable way possible, by creating a mediocre arena-rock sound similar, but not nearly equal, to U2 and Interpol. Lead single “Sex on Fire” is the song that has been generating the most buzz for the band, led by its pedestrian, two-note verse riff, and Caleb’s over-the-top vocal, which is a standard for the album as a whole. The lyrics are aimless, as always, with Followill bluntly thinking with his dick first and musical sensibilities second. I’m sure mothers and little girls everywhere will quickly swoon over Caleb’s swagger and soulful croon on this release, and this love is deserved. Caleb’s wailing is strangely listenable and horrific at the same time at many points on Only by the Night, and even if he is a little theatrical, nobody can say that he isn’t a decent “frontman”. The problem is that he too often comes across as a priest who recently found out what he was missing out on with the whole “celibacy thing”, and is desperately trying to make up for lost time. “The dark of the alley, the breaking of day/ The head while I’m driving, I’m driving”, he yelps on “Sex on Fire”, which would surely make (most of) those same mothers and little girls have a hard time swallowing (had to) their preconceived notions about the hunks they heard rocking out on top 40 radio this morning.

So gentlemen, if you’re reading, I get it, you like to f***. You like to f*** after a night of partying (“Manhattan”); you like to f*** your underage groupies (“17”); you like to turn down girls you’ve already f***ed so you can go f*** different ones (“Revelry”). This is all well and good, and on their earlier albums it could be excused, but what makes Only by the Night so disengaging is that Kings of Leon’s consistently repetitive and mediocre melodic and songwriting chops in this U2-hack, arena-rock genre create an air of pretension that tries to convince the listener that these aren’t songs about just f***ing, but about ~emotions, man~. This could be excusable, but again, the lyrics have zero emotional weight to carry around. It doesn't help that none of the four bandmates are especially talented with their instruments either; there aren't many real stand-out, signature riffs or melodies to be found, and we find each member gliding by on recycled tricks and effects. The band creates no sense of atmosphere, so channeling this longing they are supposedly trying to convey falls short here as well. What we’re left with are an album of tracks that are just “there”, bogged down by a half-assed attempt to create a “somber” mood, while simultaneously making a half-assed attempt to keep the punk energy that highlighted "Manhood" and "Heartbreak". With the exception of “Closer”, which creates at least somewhat of the “spooky town” feeling Caleb nonsensically sings about with its reverb drenched opening riff, every one of these songs fail at really grabbing the listener’s attention and emotions. It doesn’t help that the “message” that these guys are trying to convey is really a thinly-veiled 11-track request for head after the show, of course.

It really is disappointing to see a band that had at least a few positives going for it take such a poor turn with an effort like this. The ramshackle, pick-up-and-play-no-matter-how-dumb-it-is attitude of Kings of Leon’s earlier albums has been pushed to the wayside in favor of an attempt to “mature”, which in this case takes the fun out of their horny stupidity. With the failure that is Only by the Night, one can only wonder if “maturity” was really the best idea musically for the Followill clan.



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user ratings (955)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
jazzman23 (4)
Anyone who even remotely digs the Kings of Leon should stock their ipods with this gem....

Dylan S. (4)
The Kings of Leon take on their most mature release, and despite a few falters, its their best album...

Nick Butler EMERITUS (4)
Once again, the Followill brothers improve exponentially....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Jim
December 24th 2009



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

review made me lol quite a bit. have a pos' mang.

yeah this album is just about above average for mine.

Titan50
December 24th 2009



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Good review, if a little too bitter

Because Of The Times is still their best

Jemidu06
December 24th 2009



115 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

lol i wouldnt call it bitter, just disappointed that this gets so much attention when this is a band that is mediocre at best, and gets the praise for their overall worst album. but whatever floats ya boat man haha

Dreamsoffew
December 24th 2009



1002 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Definitely wouldn't say this is their worst album, just think they were trying something a bit different that's all.

LepreCon
December 24th 2009



3562 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I much much prefer the southern rock and garage rock vibes of their earlier efforts. Personally I think this is too radio rock now

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
December 24th 2009



7313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I didn't particually like their first two, but I liked Because Of The Times and this, this slightly less so.

AliW1993
Contributing Reviewer
December 24th 2009



7313 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review btw, though i disagree with a lot of it

PuddlesPuddles
December 24th 2009



4763 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I do not agree with what you say but will defend to my death your right to say it.


Sort of.

Romulus
December 24th 2009



8411 Comments


I get it, you like to f***. You like to f*** after a night of partying (“Manhattan”); you like to f*** your underage groupies (“17”); you like to turn down girls you’ve already f***ed so you can go f*** different ones (“Revelry”)


Wonderful. Album is pretty average, but these guys >>>>> the bands you compared them with


Yotimi
December 24th 2009



6436 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Little ranty but decent review. I really hate this and don't see what sets it apart from other horrible mainstream rock bands.

Romulus
December 24th 2009



8411 Comments


Listen to Closer. That's like ten times better than anything Nickelback had on their last album.

Jemidu06
December 24th 2009



115 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

yea romgsom after the comment about nickelback and 3 doors down i actually originally wrote "(okay maybe thats a little unfair)" but edited it out so as to not use parenthesis for the 60th time lol. theyre not good, but they arent thaaaat bad i know

Knott-
Emeritus
December 24th 2009



10194 Comments


i would absolutely love to hate this album

unfortunately, i can't since it's great

Titan50
December 24th 2009



4588 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, Closer is brilliant

Romulus
December 24th 2009



8411 Comments


I really like Closer and the rest is pretty groovy but doesn't really stand out to me.

feav233
December 24th 2009



1411 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

There were some lines in here that made me laugh. Nice review

HenchmanOfSanta
December 24th 2009



1852 Comments


How did you manage to not even mention Use Somebody (and why am I the only person that doesn't hate that song now)?

Yotimi
December 24th 2009



6436 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

God, that's the worst song on here

jagride
December 24th 2009



2256 Comments


I hate this album so much

PuddlesPuddles
December 24th 2009



4763 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

I get it, you like to f***. You like to f*** after a night of partying (“Manhattan”); you like to f*** your underage groupies (“17”); you like to turn down girls you’ve already f***ed so you can go f*** different ones (“Revelry”)



He's a virgin you dummy




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