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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Kings of Leon- Only By The Night

We often hear bands trying to grow and change their signature sound. Sometimes this pays off, other times it doesn’t. Kings of Leon might most exemplify this trend. Their first two discs, Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak, seeped of sexuality and youth, and earned them the nickname “the Southern Strokes”. However, Because Of The Times, saw the Followill boys growing up, sounding darker, harder, and more ambitious than they ever had been before. Only By The Night, continues that trend, and depending on which Kings of Leon you prefer, this album may leave a funny aftertaste in your mouth. The album starts off brilliantly, “Closer” pulls you in, “Crawl” draws you closer, and then “Sex on Fire” unleashes on you. “Crawl” is full of stunning guitar riffs that recall Led Zeppelin, and is by far the most musically superior song on the album. “Sex On Fire” features Kings of Leon at the top of their game, with a slow build to a climatic chorus showcasing Caleb Followill’s powerful, unique howl, with dueling guitars and thumping bass throughout. The problem with these three powerhouse tracks kicking off the album is that the band can never match these songs; the album has peaked after 10 minutes. The arena-anthem “Use Somebody” begs for someone worthy of Caleb’s love, and “Manhattan” is a beautiful, relaxed narrative about love and corruption that provide some of the final highlights of the album. In “Revelry,” “I Want You,” and “Cold Desert” have the band wearing their Southern roots on their sleeve. The problem is that none of these songs quite grab your attention like the beginning of the album. The song “Be Somebody” may be the darkest, most ambitious track off the record. It’s vicious and snarling, beautiful as it is brooding, and saves a fairly droll finish to the album. On the whole, the record, while it doesn’t exactly let you down, doesn’t quite live up to expectations either. Only By The Night would be considered a great album by any other band, but because it’s from Kings of Leon, one tends to want a little more.  The verdict truly depends on which Kings of Leon you love: the youthful, reckless band, or the ambitious, mature one. Here’s to the Followill family finding something in between.


Key Tracks: “Sex On Fire” “Crawl” “Use Somebody” 

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