Thursday, October 2, 2008

Kings of Leon - Only By The Light


I have been a Kings of Leon fan for a number of years. I loved their first two albums, Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak. The Kings are big in Europe and enjoy chart topping success with every single and album they release. When they released last year’s Because of the Times, I was dismayed that they left their trademark southern rock garage roots. I felt betrayed. I then came to the tough part of having one of your favorite bands “grow up.” I couldn’t keep them in my back pocket anymore and that hurt me. Once I was able to listen and appreciate the larger more arena friendly sound and dare I say control. I could see them for what they are out for…world domination!

The Kings of Leon’s fourth studio album, Only By The Night, gets them one step closer to ruling the earth. The album opens with, “Closer,” a mid tempo burner about believe it or not vampirism. I know I know stay with me here. The album really kicks off on the second track, “Crawl.” The bassline is buzzing and the guitars are fuzzy. The southern rock sound is replaced with the polishing of a band that is confident about its sound. The next track, “Sex On Fire,” is the first single off the album. The Kings of Leon have been about sex and partying since the day they played their first note together. The lyrical content of this song like many of the Kings’ songs before is less about substance and more about emotion. The next track, “Use Somebody” is the most arena ready song on the album and that’s not a bad thing. Caleb Followill sings and lets you into his vulnerability. I mean you have to be vulnerable to sing about about needing someone to notice you to feel important. “Revelry” grabs you next and keeps you feeling for the tortured soul who wrote this song. The Kings then pull a song like “17” to get you right back into the essence of this band; young love, bloody marys, and brothers fighting. The album continues with the Kings of Leon rocking their way through four more solid tracks, “Notion”, “I Want You”, “Be Somebody” and “Cold Desert.”

Only By The Night, proves that this family band (three brothers and a first cousin) are ready to headline festivals whether I like it or not. The Kings have been touring non stop since last year’s Because of the Times and garnering a lot of praise. Ed O’ Brien of Radiohead is an admitted fan. Surely, getting a Radiohead shout out can’t hurt your chances of becoming rock gods. I have made no bones about being a turn up your stereo kind of guy. Only a few plays will have you ready to see them live. I have had the pleasure of seeing them live and when they combine the newer numbers with some of the old southern rock garage ones it will make for one hell of a time. I have drunk the kool-aid and am ready to follow the Kings of Leon to the promised land.

*editor’s note: I have decided to give the albums a score to go along with the review.

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