Kings of Leon
Mechanical Bull


3.0
good

Review

by Polyethylene USER (14 Reviews)
September 22nd, 2013 | 49 replies


Release Date: 09/24/2013 | Tracklist

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

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 (109)
Chart.
3.2
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
Polyethylene
September 22nd 2013


3084 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

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

ShadowRemains
September 22nd 2013


20700 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

supersoaker is fucking annoying

Digging: Banks - Goddess

Judio!
Contributing Reviewer
September 22nd 2013


5784 Comments


Nice review man.
pos

Digging: Moonsorrow - V: Havitetty

SitarHero
September 22nd 2013


4672 Comments


Terrific review. Pos.

Polyethylene
September 22nd 2013


3084 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

Sleaper
September 22nd 2013


3370 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: Mick Jenkins - The Water[s]

Polyethylene
September 22nd 2013


3084 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


3395 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: Amplifier - Mystoria

Polyethylene
September 22nd 2013


3084 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


3395 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


3084 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


20000 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

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bloc
September 22nd 2013


34848 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

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

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BigPleb
September 23rd 2013


36568 Comments


Fantastic review, pos.

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

Unfortunately, this is plagued by filler :/

Digging: Arc Iris - Arc Iris

Polyethylene
September 24th 2013


3084 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


36568 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


2648 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Mediocre. Sadly...

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

Digging: U2 - Songs of Innocence

NightProwler
September 24th 2013


6339 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

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RadicalEd
September 24th 2013


2648 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Family Tree has such a sexy bass/drum part.

ABjordanMM
September 24th 2013


1403 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

beautiful war is really refreshing.

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