Kings of Leon
Mechanical Bull


3.0
good

Review

by Polyethylene USER (14 Reviews)
September 22nd, 2013 | 51 replies | 7,130 views


Release Date: 09/24/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Though back from exile, the kings haven't quite won their throne back yet.

11 of 12 thought this review was well written

What a strange tale the Kings Of Leon story has been. Though ever-adored by the British music press, it wasn't until album number three, their magnum opus Because Of The Times, that they broke into the mainstream consciousness. And even after several monster hits and two more albums – the lustrous Only By The Night and the lethargic Come Around Sundown – they never really achieved much success in their native America. After the disappointment many people expressed at Come Around Sundown, for failing to deliver either the garage grit of their early days or the polished theatrics of their latter, they seemed to be calling it quits. Going out with a whimper rather than a bang, then?

Not quite. Many fans begged the Followill brothers and cousin to reunite, and return to the sun-baked garage rock they started out making. As much as I loved everything up to and including Only By The Night, I found myself echoing the sentiment; Come Around Sundown was the sound of the band moving too far into Springsteen stadium rock territory, all beige choruses and no weight. A return to the fieriness of their early years is exactly what they needed.

How excited we all were, then, when sixth LP Mechanical Bull was announced. “We're going back to our roots,” the band said. “We've been listening to a lot of Queens of the Stone Age,” they said. Perfect. Mechanical Bull was to be heavy, energetic, maybe even experimental. The title alone suggested a sound muscular and adventurous, perhaps in the piledriving style of The Dead Weather (or Them Crooked Vultures, at the very least). Kings Of Leon were to return with a bang.

Well, bugger. Though thankfully not Come Around Sundown 2, the hot-off-the-press Mechanical Bull isn't the stomping and facemelting return to form we were hoping for either. It is, in fact, slap bang in the middle of the two. Their bite is back – faster tempos, coarser guitars – but the soppiness of Sundown still hangs in the air, the frothy nods to Springsteen still lurk around every corner.

“Supersoaker” kicks things off in lukewarm fashion; though on paper it is an Aha Shake Heartbreak-style track through and through, it is delivered with the same radio-friendly restraint that made their last album so unstirring. It is frustrating to hear quite an energetic track arrive through the speakers so flimsy, so insubstantial. Are they striking their instruments deliberately feebly? Or is it the production that makes it so wishy-washy? Whatever the explanation, a slight breeze and this song (among others on Mechanical Bull) would be blown away.

Thankfully, around half the tracks here are great, either packing more punch than “Supersoaker” or doing 'delicate' more fruitfully. “Don't Matter” is the song that delivers on the promise of Queens of the Stone Age influence, its fuzzy guitars and spooky chorus in a similar vein to Rated R. Elsewhere, “Temple” is a widescreen pop song worthy of a spot on Only By The Night, just as “Family Tree” and “Tonight” could have easily been late-album highlights on Because Of The Times.

These memorable songs ultimately outnumber the forgettable ones – the watery ballad “Wait for Me” probably being the worst offender. But still, it doesn't quite feel like enough. Kings Of Leon have failed to explore enough new territory, or do anything particularly exciting with the sounds already in their repertoire. The lads have certainly taken a step in the right direction away from Come Around Sundown, but said step could've – should've – been larger.

Now that they're out of hibernation and on an upwards trajectory, perhaps “heavy” and “experimental” will be words we'll associate with their next album. Until then, we've got Mechanical Bull. It's good, but far from great.



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user ratings (102)
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Polyethylene
September 22nd 2013



3054 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It may grow on me, but yeah... this was disappointing

Digging: Casualties of Cool - Casualties of Cool

ShadowRemains
September 22nd 2013



20243 Comments


supersoaker is fucking annoying

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
September 22nd 2013



4820 Comments


Nice review man.
pos

Digging: Integrity - Those Who Fear Tomorrow

SitarHero
September 22nd 2013



4603 Comments


Terrific review. Pos.

Decayingmajesty
September 22nd 2013



5394 Comments


Great review, pos hard

I didn't even know this had been released yet

Polyethylene
September 22nd 2013



3054 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks guys! Just dropped in NZ at least... worth a listen, but yeah, so void of surprises

I was really hoping for something in the vein of "Elephants" by Them Crooked Vultures or "I Cut Like A Buffalo" by The Dead Weather, if you know what I mean

Decayingmajesty
September 22nd 2013



5394 Comments


I really liked come around sundown

Sleaper
September 22nd 2013



3321 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Nice review,
tbh this albums just straight up unoriginal and boring.
I might be saying that because the generic band these days is a KOL rip off, but it just seems like they haven't changed what so ever from come around sundown.

Digging: Joyce Manor - Never Hungover Again

Polyethylene
September 22nd 2013



3054 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I think they've definitely gotten a bit of their 'oomph' back since Sundown, but I still hold their first four albums all in higher regard

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2013



3335 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I like Come Around Sundown most. It has such a cool, summer-ish vibe (they really nailed it with the cover) and the music is really catchy. This album, however, seems diluted. It has some hooks, but everything's familiar and less interesting. Great review, pos.

Digging: Karma To Burn - Arch Stanton

Polyethylene
September 22nd 2013



3054 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks. I agree about the summery vibes, and do love the album cover. I disagree regarding the music being catchy though, I feel most of its hooks sound really... worn out? Out of breath? The End being the perfect example, I don't find that chorus catchy. It sounds exhausted somehow, I can't explain it

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
September 22nd 2013



3335 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I understand. I think it's their most bipolar record in terms of fan reactions. It doesn't have the attitude of their previous stuff, but tracks like Pyro, The Immortals, Beach Side, No Money or The Face are so good. I have to listen to the record again lol.

Polyethylene
September 22nd 2013



3054 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I have no idea what style of melody it is, but I don't find it catchy at all... it's almost fatiguing. But I like Pyro, Back Down South and Pony Up a lot (:

Green Baron
September 22nd 2013



18121 Comments


supersoaker is alright, not as irritating as use somebody of radioactive. probably won't like this that much if it's like their last few records

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

bloc
September 22nd 2013



34679 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Album actually ain't bad. Might drop it down to a 3 over time though.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

BigPleb
September 23rd 2013



34066 Comments


Fantastic review, pos.

Some great songs here e.g. Don't Matter, Temple, Tonight.

Unfortunately, this is plagued by filler :/

Digging: Opeth - Pale Communion

Polyethylene
September 24th 2013



3054 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks dude, agree on the great songs and the filler... this could've just been a hell of an EP

BigPleb
September 24th 2013



34066 Comments


Tell me about it.

I just feel like they've given into their commercial temptations too much hear, which makes a good half of this album predictable and trite.

RadicalEd
September 24th 2013



2555 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Mediocre. Sadly...

They can do better, they even show in on some songs (Family Tree)

Digging: Depth Connection - Fever Dreams

NightProwler
September 24th 2013



6335 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Great review. Although I must admit, I think "Family Tree" is pretty bad. My fav off this album's got to be "Beautiful War". Would rate it 3.2 or 3.3, but I can't. And I think 3 is a little too low for this

Digging: Neil Young - American Stars 'N Bars



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