October 28, 2010

Test Spins: Kings of Leon

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Two years ago Kings of Leon took the world by storm with the release of their fourth album, Only by the Night. After years of critical approval, the band was finally met with the commercial success they had long deserved. But, as is often the case, that success elicited a backlash from longtime fans, who felt as though the quartet had streamlined their sound to appease the masses.

Regardless of whether or not that was the band’s intention, it worked. Worldwide sales of Only by the Night totaled around 6.5 million copies, and “Use Somebody” became a smash hit, which makes Come Around Sundown a definitive album for the guys. Would they continue to embrace the sound that catapulted them to the top of the charts, or revert back to the reckless abandon of their earlier work?

The short answer is both. Come Around Sundown is an album that attempts to marry the sensibilities of KOL’s earlier work with that of One by the Night, all while playing up their southern charm.

Lead single “Radioactive” is an exuberant number that walks a fine line between southern rock and gospel. It’s also one of the album’s few radio friendly tracks. That’s not surprising given the remarks Caleb Followill has made, as of late. “I don’t want the world to start to hate us because every time you’d turn on the radio, you hear one of our songs,” the lead singer recently said.

However, what the album lacks in hooks it makes up for in atmosphere. “The Immortals” has a sprawling chorus, and a guitar riff built for the massive stadium venues KOL have become accustom to. The same can be said of “The End,” which has Followill’s falsetto complemented by a reverb heavy guitar riff.

Emotionally hefty numbers “Pyro” and Pickup Truck” stand out because of their acute use of imagery. While, on “Pony Up” and “Back down South,” Followill lets his southern drawl loose, and the result is wonderful.

KOL don’t often misfire but, when they do, it’s usually dramatic. Such is the case with “Birthday,” which, despite an interesting guitar lick, cannot overcome laughable lyrics.


Original Author: Wesley Ambrecht