It seems as though Kings Of Leon have created their best album since, well, ever with Come Around Sundown
. Kings Of Leon have always been fairly competent musicians; 4 relatives hailing from the Tennessee area providing a slightly southern-tinged alt-rock sound that feels strangely familiar and yet original for mainstream music. Five albums into their career and it's apparent that Kings Of Leon have found their sound, their groove; while Because Of The Times
had some truly rocking tracks that propelled Kings Of Leon into the minds of people worldwide, it also had a handful of subpar tracks that really brought the album down from being a staple in the past decade's mainstream arena. Also, their most commercially successful album Only By The Night
had a number of songs that would dominate the radio for much of 2008-09 like the heartwarming "Use Somebody" and the sensual, gritty southern shroud of "Sex On Fire", and yet the album sounded watered down and at times felt like Kings Of Leon were playing it safe.
And that leaves us at Come Around Sundown
which is essentially Only By The Night
with confidence. It's undoubtably more dynamic, throwing in little shifts in sound like the distant piano ending of the wonderfully ironic "The End" which begins the album. Caleb Followhill has always had some set of pipes, belting out high notes with a southern twang that was infectious and soothing, yet on Only By The Night
he's never convincing. Even though his lyrics are rarely magical or memorable, Caleb's voice is strong enough to propel his words through, but on Only By The Night
he sounded flat, devoid of courage, even hesitant. But here on Come Around Sundown
, Caleb allows his voice to accompany the music at hand, instead of trying to dominate the record, and in turn he sounds more couragous and passionate than ever. By using more restraint and focus in his singing, by allowing the music to bloom with him and not behind him, Kings Of Leon sound more like an unstoppable force than they've ever been. "Pyro" showcases this new found sense of union, as Caleb's toned-down cries are a lovely aid to the meloncholic guitar playing and rigid tom-tom work. Jared's bass playing is still arguably the best part of Kings Of Leon's sound, as he showcases his sporatic rhythm and quick tempo shifts in the blissful, fast paced "No Money". Jared is also never drowned out in the sound, which is a mark of the clear production on Come Around Sundown
; everything sounds crisp, tight, and luminous.
While Come Around Sundown
keeps a steady aesthetic akin to its album title, Kings Of Leon unfortunately don't sway that much in terms of songwriting experimentation or virtuosity. Perhaps that's not what they're here for, it just would have been nice to hear something from them that doesn't sound like them at all. While one could say it's a band attempting to perfect their craft, I believe that the road Kings Of Leon have decided to walk down is a short one, and that the way they are going they will eventually run out of slight changes to their core formula and hit a dead end. But for now they are walking as forceful as they possibly can, down a road parallel to the shore, enjoying what they do, and doing it confidently. And that is something to applaud.