New Music Review: Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

 

Two years ago, the Kings of Leon released their fourth studio album, Only By the Night.  And since Sex On Fire hit the radio waves that summer, the past two years have been North America’s coming out party for the Kings of Leon, considering they were relatively unknown in Canada and the USA prior to this release.  Funny enough, the group was selling out large venues and headlining major festivals over the Atlantic pond in Europe, particularly in the UK.

To me, this time-gap in success from one continent to another is indicative of the way in which different music markets receive different sounds and genres: The first two KOL albums were fast, dirty and raw.  Europe was all over it.  Once the brothers brushed off the southern dust, polished up their grit and “softened up” a bit with the release of Only By the Night, we here on the North American plate were all over it.  Well, get ready, North America, because Come Around Sundown picks up right where Only By the Night left off.

The new album begins with The End (oh, the irony!), who’s intro and chorus is reminiscent of the spooky, atmospheric Closer off their previous album; yet, instead of delivering lyrical intrigue with tales of vampire love, this opener seems to be conjuring up desperate images of an addict running close to “the end”.

After The End comes the first radio single, Radioactive.  Unless you live under a rock or listen strictly to country music, you have likely heard this track, therefore, I will leave out a needless description.  With the close of Radioactive begins Pyro.  I must admit, I wasn’t a fan of this song much the first time I heard it.  After a few listens, it has in fact grown on me.  It begins a little slow, but as it progresses, I can’t help but hum along to the closing repetition of the line “I won’t ever be your corner stone”, while lead singer, Caleb’s voice is heard in several soaring harmonies amidst the rolling bass and pleasant guitar line.

Next comes Mary.  I can honestly say that this song is likely the most different song on the album, if not the entire KOL catalogue.  And it’s kind of refreshing.  The boys rock to a shuffle beat, paying tribute to rock’n’roll of the ‘50s. Perhaps on purpose, the lyrics reference many innocent 1950’s love-song lyrics: kissing, dancing, crying.  We even get a decent guitar solo with what could be loosely described as an homage to Chuck Berry and the guitarists of that day.

Following Mary comes a couple of songs that aren’t bad, but definitely don’t stand out as a few of the previous songs did on first and second listen.  The Face and The Immortals are examples of what I felt made Only By the Night somewhat (insert negative adjective here).  As I said, they aren’t bad, but they definitely don’t do much to arouse my musical libido.

Fortunately, Back Down South adds a little more depth to these mid-album doldrums.  It may not be the most exciting song on the album, but it does something similar to what Mary does in that it brings something new to the table.  With a little slide guitar, some tambourine, hand claps and fiddle, the music does justice to the song title while not meandering too far off genre.  Another stand-out, for me.

Beach Side does what Back Down South does by musically reflecting itself in its song title.  Particularly, the lazy surf guitar sound, drenched in reverb; a sound not classically “Kings of Leon”.  Different, although, a little too much like laying on the beach:  relaxing but kind of dull.

No Money sounds like something that didn’t quite make the cut for KOL’s third album, Because of the Times.  This is the first time Nathan’s drumming has really stood out to me since that album (perhaps with exception of Be Somebody) where every song had an impressive, unorthodox beat.

Beginning with a mildly distorted bassline, and then an interesting guitar line Pony Up has potential.  But then, like many times before, lead singer, Caleb croons so similarly to many of the tracks before that this song almost gets lost.  Fortunately, the cool intro bass and guitar lines carry the song through as the vocal acrobatics begin to grow tired.

Birthday: …… snoozer.  Again, there’s potential in the first 15 seconds, but I find this song falls flat musically, and even more so lyrically.  You be the judge.

As the album wraps up, Mi Amigo and Pickup Truck finish it off.  It seems Caleb needs at least one self-deprecating song on each album about his battles with his vices (booze/drugs).  Mi Amigo is such a song that’s not-so-subtly disguised as a homage to his girlfriend/fiancée, or so I’m led to believe by the title.  Either that or the ‘amigo’ actually is alcohol. Decent tune, nevertheless.

Pickup Truck is a neat closer.  Musically, it carries the same mellow yearn as almost every KOL album’s closing song does (see Rememo, Arizona, Cold Desert); but the line, “A little piece of a bloody tooth/Just so you know I was thinking of you” caught my ear and I realized the song is about getting in a scrap over a girl with a guy who has a pickup truck: “But when he pulled in and revved it up/I said you call that a pick up truck?”  I like it.

Overall, I’m not as disappointed with the album as I thought I’d be, and although there are a few snoozers, songs like Mary, Back Down South, Pyro, and Mi Amigo carry the album into some slightly new territory while holding true to what made KOL the band they are.

As much as I would love to have another Youth and Young Manhood or Because of the Times, I’ve been forced to come to grips with the fact that bands evolve whether or not you want them to… *sigh*

3 out of 5 stars

 

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~ by whet_hopped on October 18, 2010.

12 Responses to “New Music Review: Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown”

  1. Caleb’s Sexiness: 5 out of 5

  2. Hahahaha Dylan with a moustache!!!

  3. where’s the CD
    I need a listen so I can trash and or diss
    them too

  4. Nice review! I mostly agree

  5. […] New Music Review: Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown October 2010 9 comments 5 […]

  6. new album of blink182 in 2011 is true?

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